Reese Witherspoon on Draper James, Southern Hospitality, and More
The Oscar-winning actress gives AD the inside scoop on the design of her new store in Dallas
Southern hospitality comes naturally to Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, who was born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville before making it big in Hollywood. Despite the movie premieres and glamorous sets, it turns out she’s still a Tennessee girl at heart. Witherspoon’s charming, down-home vibe is evident in Draper James, her southern-inspired fashion and lifestyle brand, which offers everything from ladylike skirts to plaid coaster sets and pom-pom keychains. After launching her flagship boutique last year in Nashville, the actress recently opened her second Draper James location, fittingly enough, in Dallas’s buzzy Highland Park Village, collaborating with A-list interior designer Mark D. Sikes on the 1,800-square-foot space. Packed with ready-to-wear dresses, accessories, and home products in a variety of upbeat seasonal prints (including the classic-meets-modern pieces in her new Tailgating collection), the store is sure to become the next It shopping destination. Read on for a look inside the pretty-as-punch boutique and see how Witherspoon pulled it all together.
What was your vision for the new Draper James store? I wanted the store to embody the graciousness of southern culture with traditional elements like wallpaper and moldings, but also have a contemporary feel with light fixtures and art. It was important that the store felt like people were walking into my own home.
What was the design process like? I found inspiration all over—on my travels abroad, on Pinterest, of course, and even in my own family heirlooms. In fact, my grandmother Dorothea Draper had a great affinity for design. Her blue-and-white transferware china was a big inspiration for our blue-and-white decor.
What details stand out in the space? The store is set up with an open floor plan, but there are distinct spaces within. You’re meant to feel as if you’ve entered a friend’s house; first you find yourself in an entryway, then at a long marble island with stools (it’s our cash wrap, but it resembles a kitchen), then finally in a living room. The “rooms” are delineated by beautiful floor-to-ceiling curtains.
What was your collaborating like with Mark D. Sikes? He has an amazing blog that I followed with keen interest; Mark has a contemporary take on traditional design that I find very appealing. When I met with him for the first time, I discovered that he had lived in Nashville as well, so when the time came for me to find a designer to collaborate with, he was a natural fit. He understood my southern sensibility and my desire to create a space that incorporated all the comfort and charm of a southern home.
How does the space tie in with your overall vision for Draper James? I was born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville so I was greatly influenced by southern women: the way they dress for every occasion, their love of family heirlooms, and their passion for pattern and color. Southern women love bright colors and floral prints—anything that celebrates a joy for life. I think the design very much conveys a sense of the new South, where people who have traveled the world want to come back to their traditional homes and fill them with design influences from all over the globe.
What emotion do you hope the space evokes for your shoppers? When our customers walk in the door, I hope they will feel warm and welcome, just as if they were invited into my home for a glass of sweet tea. We designed the store with many comfortable couches and chairs so that people could sit and visit awhile and enjoy the cozy space.
Are there any design elements in the store that you love so much you’ve also incorporated them into your home? I asked renowned artist Gray Malin to create one of his famous balloon photographs for our store so that it says “Howdy.” I plan on buying the first print for my office. It perfectly captures the friendliness of the South and the feeling that everyone is welcome.