1960s Neiman Marcus and the Vintage Inversion Slant Board

© Ezra Stoller /Esto - Guests at the trendsetting Greenhouse Spa, co-conceived by Marcus to attract luxury shoppers to Dallas. Photo used with permission from Esto Photographics Inc.

In our times of lounge wear and online shopping, we take you back to a time of glamorous experiential shopping with the flagship Neiman Marcus store in Dallas and son Stanley Marcus, a pioneering figure in the history of American retail. 

James McAuley writes in a New York Times Style Magazine article The Man Who Brought Paris to Dallas:

“The store represented something utterly new: an alternate reality at the intersection of commerce and culture, where ordinary women and men learned not what to wear but how to live, a place where they could become, if only for a moment, their best selves.”

"He took at least as much pride in the store’s considerable art collection as in making a sale. Many have seen their first Picasso or Toulouse-Lautrec at Neiman Marcus, he wrote of his loyal customers, oil executives and schoolteachers alike. Many get their first insights into a foreign country they will never visit.”

“Neiman Marcus was never simply a place to shop. It was a place to dream.”

The Greenhouse Spa

In 1965, Stanley Marcus, his wife Billie, nutrition consultant Helen Corbitt, SMU dance instructor Toni Beck and others, opened the doors to The Greenhouse Spa, a garden-like building in Arlington, not far, conveniently, from the flagship Neiman Marcus store, complete with Romanesque arches and trellises, a courtyard with a heated pool, and balconied living spaces above.

The Greenhouse Spa is known as one of the most successful spas in America. Over the years, it attracted high-profile women from Dallas and around the country, celebrities such as Grace Kelly and Cindy Crawford, president's wives including Lady Bird Johnson and Barbara Bush.

Stanley Marcus explained in the book Minding The Store: “Our interest was in the operation of a facility so superior in luxury and results that thirty-five socialites from all over the nation would come to Dallas every week of the year and eventually become regular Neiman-Marcus customers.” 

The photo above, from the Greenhouse Spa, is taken by Ezra Stoller, a well known architectural photographer and used with permission in this blog post © Ezra Stoller/Esto. Among the iconic structures he photographed are Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, the Seagram Building, and the TWA Terminal.

The photo shows one of the many exercise classes offered to the guests at The Greenhouse Spa, this one called a "gentle exercise class" with inversion slant boards, popular at the time as an “anti-aging” and beauty device. They were sold by Hammacher Schlemmer and Sears Roebuck.

The spa was, as spas are, a place to detach from the outside world and renew. The Greenhouse was unique with Neiman-Marcus fashion shows, evening lectures, elegant dinners and of course, bus visits to the Dallas store. 

From Spa to Serenity

Today, the Greenhouse Spa is owned by the American Addiction Centers and is an addiction treatment getaway known as Greenhouse Treatment Center.

Intended as a way to offer a different approach to addiction treatment, they’ve kept the spa-like atmosphere in mind with “holistic, end-to-end healing, wrapped in the level of service you may find at your favorite hotel.”

How beautifully fitting for the spa to be a place of renewal and hope by means of recovery from addiction. 

And as for the inversion slant board, let’s be honest, who doesn't love passive exercise? 

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