Monthly Archives: May 2012

Our Passion Behind The Fashion


I wanted to take a moment to share a little bit of personal insight into this amazing project that I feel so blessed to be a part of; a project very dear to me and all those involved.

It started as a small idea during a conversation back in May of 2010 with a great friend and fabulous all around lady, Andi Eaton.

The idea was to create an event that could be a platform for fashion designers in New Orleans. Since that conversation, along with the hard work and dedication of our amazing friend and phenomenal PR partner, Lauren Lagarde, our outstanding core team, and so many others, this Saturday, March 2nd, we kick off our 5th Season of NOLA Fashion Week.

The project has grown tremendously, sometimes overwhelmingly so, and we have been blessed to be able to work with and support so many brilliantly talented designers. Additionally, we have been able to the grow the fashion industry in New Orleans and the South through our organization, the NOLA Fashion Council.

The interesting thing that most people don’t know is that close to the entire project is run on volunteer efforts, support from some pretty incredible business partners, and donations from people like you.

If you, or anyone you know, feel so compelled, visit our support page to make a donation or join one of our Supporter Circles to help us defray the cost of the project. Plus, you’ll get to attend all of the fabulous events that start this Saturday!

For a full list of events in this upcoming season, visit

Many thanks! Take care, and I hope to see you soon!


PS – if you have an extra minute and to spare, here’s an overview deck on the project:

NOLA Fashion Week Overview from NOLAFW on Vimeo.

Originally posted on

WWD: New Orleans’ Retail Reflects Comeback

July 30, 2012

NEW ORLEANS – Its newspaper business may be struggling, but New Orleans’ retail scene is thriving.

The influx of national and independent stores is part of a post-Hurricane Katrina push that has publications from Forbes to Parenting singing the city’s praises for start-ups, quality of life and job and income growth.

“There’s a collective sense to build a new New Orleans that’s far better than the pre-storm version,” said Michael Hecht, chief executive officer and president of Greater New Orleans Inc., a regional economic development alliance, comparing the Louisiana capital to Miami and New York after their respective dark periods of cocaine cowboys and pre-Giuliani era crime.

New industries like biomedicine, sustainability and digital media are driving a brain gain of young professionals who also are attracted by the city’s affordable housing and culture – from live music to world-class cuisine. Whereas the city lagged behind by 25 percent nationally in start-ups before 2005 when Katrina hit, it has more than rebounded to 30 percent ahead, according to Hecht. Tourism is back on track, too. The New Orleans Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) reports last year brought 8.75 million visitors, a huge leap from 2006’s 3.7 million and more in line with 2004’s 10.1 million. One of the most telling comebacks regarding rampant new and renovated hospitality is the downtown Hyatt Regency, which reopened its $275 million redesign with nearly 1,200 rooms in October, after being shuttered from storm damage.

“This year is already ahead due to an unprecedented series of events such as the NCAA Final Four and Navy Week,” said the CVB’s vice president Kelly Schulz, whose goal is to reach 13.7 million visitors by 2018.

Retail has responded significantly in the past couple of years. Even hard-hit New Orleans East is seeing some big-box action which will be anchored by Wal-Mart in 2013. Costco also revealed its arrival next year at Carrollton Shopping Center north of Tulane University.

Lisa Manzella, general manager for The Shops at Canal Place, said stores that discontinued lease negotiations in 2005 have signed for spaces or started conversations again. Louis Vuitton remodeled and expanded its shop-in-shop in Saks Fifth Avenue by 30 percent to 2,800 square feet; Brooks Brothers, an original tenant at The Shops, fully renovated; and Michael Kors debuted the first of two lifestyle concepts, with the other at Lakeside Shopping Center in the Metairie suburb following in May.

“Kors opened a lot of doors for us,” she said, citing the 2013 Super Bowl as another reason stores are sniffing around. “We’re back on their radar, like a 5,000-square-foot J. Crew came to the center in February.”

Since opening two years ago at The Shops, Anthropologie has exceeded sales expectations, according to executive director of retail Brendon Lynch. The company committed to the location through decor, such as a porch entrance facing the French Quarter and locally sourced dinnerware and scarves.

“We were excited to become part of the community and collaborated with many local artists to create original pieces that deepen the local nature of the store, such as Rebecca Rebouche’s diptych,” he said.

This already deep sense of localism has increased exponentially from rebuilding efforts and the national trend. When fashion designer Lisa Iacono couldn’t source a local manufacturer, she founded Nola Sewn with Tam Huynh, who managed hundreds of seamstresses at a factory that closed due to Katrina. Their 4,000-square-foot facility in Westbank across the Mississippi River produces samples and private label collections for 30 designers, as well as bridal and carnival costumes.

“Garment making is still very much a living art and cultural pride here, more so than any other city I’ve lived [in],” said Iacono, inspired by local couturiers like Suzanne Perron, a former designer for Vera Wang. “And if they leave, locals – like Anderson Cooper’s producer who we’re dressing for the Emmys – still want to represent their hometown.”

In response, the city hosted inaugural events for two annual fashion weeks in March 2011. Fashion Week New Orleans presents charity-driven runway shows by national stores, local boutiques and designers, whereas NOLA Fashion Week by the NOLA Fashion Council focuses on Southern-born or based talent geared toward the trade.

Vernon, a men’s and women’s boutique that opened on Magazine Street last summer, was quick to jump on the local scene: Leah Milana’s boho tops and palazzo pants; Joe Rotolo’s custom suiting and shirts under the Luca Falcone label; and okra- and crawfish-themed necklaces from Saint Claude Nola hang alongside New York lines Yoana Baraschi and Descendant of Thieves. Women’s seersucker shorts test the waters for Josephine, a private label produced at Nola Sewn that is launching this fall.

“The owner, Chris Galliano, wanted to bring European tailoring to New Orleans, where many restaurants still require men to wear jackets,” said manager and buyer Laura Keith, who offers shoppers gourmet moonshine and other sips from a well-stocked bar as they flip through fabric swatches.

Located on the fabled high street’s nearest cluster to the Quarter, known as historic row, the shop draws as many tourists, especially during championship football games, as locals heading home from work to ritzier Uptown. The neighborhood has grown considerably with retailers like Vernon gobbling up gentrified property on the long vacant north side of the strip. One of the first was Jamie Menutis, who opened the Green Serene eco-boutique in a former fish market in 2009. Other eco-minded shops sprouted, resulting in a green-branded block.

“This niche seems a natural response after the storm polluted the city. People thought I was crazy, but I wanted to be part of improving New Orleans,” she said.

Some retailers entered the business after corporate jobs dried up in Katrina’s wake. After being laid off from medical sales, Meg O’Reilly took a risk in opening the Abeille women’s boutique in spring 2011. Her husband founded an engineering firm.

“That’s why there are so many entrepreneurs here. We had no choice,” she said, surrounded by Tim Kennedy’s watercolors of burlesque dancers in her old tire garage space with concrete floors and wood chandeliers.

Catering to college students and young working mothers, items include Ladakh dresses, Bobi knits and Genetic Denim retail for under $200. Seersucker and sheer maxi dresses from Jolie Elizabeth, a favored, locally produced collection, sell well. O’Reilly exemplifies a recent, citywide trend in a one clothing retailer entering an underserved neighborhood. In her case, Oak Street is a destination for Jacques-Imo’s creole dishes and jazz jams at Maple Leaf bar.

Another example is Christine Bordenave, who opened Fifteen22 Boutique in a historic pink and moss-green house in the Lower Garden District last year.

“Since we’re on St. Charles Avenue, we get many tourists and conventioneers riding the streetcar or studying architecture, plus nearby wealthy women who want fun, Friday night outfits,” she said, offering Jessica Simpson’s yellow, pleated party dress and Blaque Label’s strapless, asymmetrical mini-dress in green silk chiffon. “Mine is a destination versus upper Magazine, where browsers just enter any store with a good window.”

On the heels of upscale residential development, the Central Business District and Warehouse/Arts District are the next retail places to pop. Kurt Weigle, president and ceo of the Downtown Development District, reports $3.5 billion has been invested in the compact area’s eight distinct neighborhoods based on post-Katrina construction permits. Canal Street’s $17 million streetscape has attracted brightly lit, renovated drugstores, theaters and hotels, with national tenants in the vein of Forever 21 and HM being the second phase. Timed for the Super Bowl, New Era Cap’s flagship is a sign of what’s to come on Canal. The area’s population has increased by 35 percent to 28,000 residents since 2010, and this crowd of empty nesters and young entrepreneurs wants to walk out their doors for chicory coffee and blackened redfish.

Filling downtown’s void for women’s wear, retailer Sanja Alickovic chose a property with a neighboring chocolatier and yoga studio on lower Magazine Street five minutes from the Quarter. Opened last November, Hâute Boutique carries labels like Bella Dahl, Parker, David Lerner and Mason by Michelle Mason, her bestseller. She also picked up local designers like Loretta Jane and Construct Jewelry at NOLA Fashion Week.

“I would have been too limited in brands Uptown,” she said, comparing her locale to New York’s Meatpacking District. “Our clientele of condo owners and suburban office workers who shop during lunch is our greatest advantage.”

When researching her business plan, Alickovic concluded incomes in her zip code averaged $93,000, about $18,500 more than other shopping areas including Uptown. Another boon is the movie industry, which has stylists loading up on wardrobes at nearly every shop in town, and earned the state the title “Hollywood South.” Film and TV production – from “Contraband” and “Green Lantern” to “Treme” and “Common Law” – has skyrocketed due to a 30 to 35 percent tax credit, depending on whether local crews are hired. Beyond its long history of on-location filming, the city now can accommodate big-budget projects year-round through two new major studios. Smaller productions have taken over warehouses on both sides of the river, and Los Angeles post-production companies have expanded with satellite offices.

“More of the budget is staying here now,” said Katie Williams, director of Film New Orleans, estimating 71 percent of films’ budgets remained in 2011 versus 46 percent the previous year.

Rattling off a list of hip downtown companies such as iSeatz and Dumonde Visual Effects, Weigle said no-capital expenditure tax incentives up to 35 percent also are courting them.

“There’s definitely a palpable energy when you walk the streets,” he said.

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NOLA Nite Life shares the March 2012 Fashion Week line up

Fashion Event:
NOLA Fashion Week 

Sat, 03/03/12

New Orleans City
New Orleans, LA

Week Continues to Focus on Growth of the Fashion Industry in New Orleans with Individual Designer Show Line Up


NOLA Fashion Week, produced by the NOLA Fashion Council, announces

its schedule of events for its Fall/Winter season taking place March 3-10 2012 which includes

seven days of fashion presentations, runway shows, networking events, educational workshops

and a fashion market. Building on the success of the past two seasons NOLA Fashion Week will

continue to further its mission of providing Southern born or based designers a platform to gain

exposure, increase sales and professional contacts.


Co-founders Nicholas Landry and Andi Eaton will continue to foster beneficial relationships

between Southern born or based designers and buyers, production facilities, industry experts and

the community by giving them a platform to show their designs. Each designer will present their

Fall/Winter or Resort 2012 collection which will be attended by local buyers and media.

In addition to industry insiders, a limited amount of this season’s tickets will be released to the

public. All proceeds collected during the week will go to the NOLA Fashion Council’s local

initiatives which include NOLA Fashion Week, year-long continuing education for the fashion

community and ultimately developing a fashion incubator to serve as a resource and launching

ground for designers and industry professionals in the region.


The educational workshops continue to be a primary focus of the week and will include new

subjects like branding, the in’s and out’s of running a fashion business and fashionable

organization. Taught by industry insiders and experts, workshops will range in cost from $25 to

$75 and give the next generation of designers and creatives in New Orleans the opportunity to

get hands-on experience on a wide range of topics.


“Last year we stimulated the dialogue between designers and buyers to put Southern fashion on

the map,” says co-founder Andi Eaton. “Our goal this year is to increase the viability and the

vitality of the fashion industry in New Orleans through a weeklong series of events that

showcase Southern talent.”


See below for a full list of designers and the week’s schedule.


Designers Showing at NOLA Fashion Week

• Jolie & Elizabeth by Jolie Bensen and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey, New Orleans, LA

• Amanda deLeon Clothing, New Orleans, LA

• dope Clothing, Baton Rouge, LA

• Cavortress by Julie Wheat, Charleston, SC

• BySMITH by Smith Sinrod, New York, NY

• Libellule, New Orleans, LA

• Matthew Arthur Apparel Architecture by Matthew Arthur, New Orleans, LA

• Andrea Loest, New Orleans, LA

• blackout. by Ashlie Ming, Jackson, MS

Full Schedule of Events and Information


Saturday, March 3rd

Photography w/ Robby Klein & Thom Bennett



Tickets through Skillshare

Suzanne Perrone Book Launch: “Designing in Ivory and White”

Martine Chaisson Gallery



Eventbrite Public Access: $5 suggested donation


The Elizabeth Chronicles Launch Party




Link to Tickets on Republic Website (15% of proceeds donated to NOLAFC)


Sunday, March 4th

NOLAFC Advisory Board, Designer, & Sponsor Brunch

Ste. Marie


Closed to the Public

Street Style Brunch possibly hosted Lindsay Calla? Or InvadeNOLA

Ste. Marie


Tickets: $30 prixe fixe ($5 of each meal donated to NOLAFC)


Monday, March 5th

EDU: Kids Fashion Day

Ogden Museum

Tickets through Skillshare or Day of at the Ogden

EDU: The Life Cycle of a Style w/ Lisa Locono



Tickets through Skillshare

EDU: Organizing Your Life Fashionably w/ Skye Truax


The Occasional Wife on Magazine


Tickets through Skillshare


Tuesday, March 6th

EDU: What 7th Ave Taught Me That I Did Not Learn in School w/ Suzanne Perrone



Tickets through Skillshare

Libellule Presentation

Martine Chaisson Gallery


Tickets (Eventbrite)

Public Access: $25 each

Multi Event (w/ By Smith): $40 each

By Smith Presentation

Martine Chaisson Gallery


Tickets (Eventbrite)

Public Access: $25 each

Multi Event (w/ Libellule): $40 each


Material Girl Lounge

The Saint | Burgundy Bar



Wednesday, March 7th

MASHUP: Vitamin Water Presents Where Fashion meets Music

Featuring Jolie & Elizabeth ft Royal Teeth; Blackout by Ashlie Ming ft Big History; Dope

Clothing ft Baby Bee

The Joy Theater


Tickets (Ticketmaster through Joy)

Advanced Public Access: $40

Door Tickets: $50


Material Girl Lounge

The Saint | Burgundy Bar



Thursday, March 8th

Fashion in the Arts District featuring:

Andrea Loest Presentation

Mallory Page Gallery, 6:00p

Amanda DeLeon Presentation

TBD, 7:00p

Mat Arthur Presentation

AIA, 8:00P


Cavortress Presentation

Le Mieux Gallery, 9:00P

Tickets (Eventbrite)– same for each Presentation

Public Viewing of Collections $10 each


Material Girl Lounge

The Saint | Burgundy Bar 10pm


Friday, March 9th

EDU: Branding w/ Julie Wheat of Cavortress

TBD, 3-5pm

Tickets through Skillshare

Fashion Market

French Market, 2-6pm

Open to Public


Green Gala

Eiffel Society , 7-11:30pm

Tickets (Eventbrite)


Saturday, March 10th

Fashion Market

French Market, 11-4pm

Open to Public

AVEDA’s Eco Fashion Day featuring shows by Hip Vintage, Stay by Mar, etc

Washington Artillery Park or French Market (weather backup)

Tickets (Eventbrite)

Public Access: $25 each

Eco Day + Green Gala Access: $50 each


NOLA Fashion Week helps local designers grow – via

Published: Friday, March 02, 2012
by: Susan Langenhennig, The Times-Picayune 

There’s a bit of tailoring being done to the schedule of NOLA Fashion Week, as the founders try to perfect the fit while moving into their third season. The upstart event, which kicks off Saturday and runs through March 10, is evolving into a festival that’s part serious — with educational workshop and networking opportunities — and part party, with a mash-up runway-show-meets-music-concert planned for Wednesday at the newly reopened Joy Theater.



Other designer events will be held in the form of presentations — with models standing still, rather than striding a runway, a format that allows for closer inspection of the clothing and gives new designers a chance to mix and mingle with potential buyers, bloggers, editors and other guests.

“I love a runway show as much as anyone else does, but we knew we needed to help the designers grow. Presentations are cost-effective,” said Andi Eaton, who last spring launched the first NOLA Fashion Week with events planner Nick Landry, both having grand ambitions to channel the city’s creativity into a marketable industry.

Those goals are still there, but after two sets of shows last year, Eaton and Landry realized most of the city’s aspiring designers need opportunities to sharpen their skills as well as to gain exposure.

“We’re going to focus on expanding our workshops and educational programs, doing them throughout the year, and helping designers really get connected,” Eaton said. “The way we differentiate ourselves is to be a resource for designers.”



  • Saturday: Fashion photography workshop with Robby Klein and Thom Bennett, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mallory Page Gallery, 614 Julia St.
  • Sunday: Fashion illustration, hosted by accessories designer Briana Burgau, Entrepreneur’s Row, 220 Camp St.
  • Monday: “The Life Cycle of a Style,” a workshop on producing a clothing line, hosted by Lisa Locono, local designer and owner of NOLA Sewn production company, 3 to 5 p.m., Entrepreneur’s Row.
  • Tuesday: “What 7th Avenue Taught Me That I Did Not Learn in School,” a workshop hosted by designer Suzanne Perron, 3 to 5 p.m., Entrepreneur’s Row.
  • Tuesday: Presentations by Loretta Jane, 6 p.m., Libellule (pronounced “libby-lou”) by Cricket Lapeyre and Leigh Reveley, 7 p.m., and BySmith by Smith Sinrod, 8 p.m., all at the Martine Chaisson Gallery, 727 Camp St.
  • Wednesday: “Where Music Meets Fashion” concert and runway show featuring designs by Jolie & Elizabeth, Blackout by Ashlie Ming and Dope, and bands Royal Teeth, Big History and Baby Bee, 7:30 p.m., at the Joy Theater, 1200 Canal St.
  • Thursday: Presentations by Andrea Loest, 6 p.m., at the Mallory Page Gallery; Amanda DeLeon, 7 p.m., at Martine Chaisson Gallery; Matt Arthur, 8 p.m., at the American Institute of Architects, 1000 St. Charles Ave.; and Cavortress, 9 p.m., at Le Mieux Gallery, 332 Julia St.
  • March 9: Branding workshop with Julie Wheat of Cavortress, 3 to 5 p.m., at the NOLA Fashion Council Office, 4122 Magazine St.
  • March 10: Fashion Market featuring locally made jewelry and accessories, all day, in the French Market.
  • For tickets and a more detailed schedule, go to

The need to differentiate comes as a result of NOLA Fashion Week falling in the same month as Fashion Week New Orleans. Like vegans and vegetarians, the two events have similar goals and confusingly close names but slightly different approaches.

Fashion Week New Orleans, held March 21-25, will be a series of runway shows featuring clothing from retailers as well as a designer competition modeled after “Project Runway,” with all events open to anyone who craves a good catwalk.

NOLA Fashion Week is more industry-focused, with educational talks and presentations by local designers aimed at luring buyers and media. It’s geared toward helping those who dream of being the next Vera Wang or Calvin Klein get serious about building a business as well as a look.

Workshops cost $25 to $75 each and will have topics ranging from branding your label to understanding the production process to tips on fashion photography and illustration. The long-term goal is to start a fashion business incubator program in New Orleans to serve as a “launching ground for designers in the region,” said NOLA Fashion Week spokeswoman Lauren Lagarde.

“We know there’s got to be a serious component to what we’re doing here,” she said. “To have an industry here, that’s where our focus needs to be right now.”

NOLA Fashion Week 2012: Background & Schedule from Invade NOLA


photo from Kelli Cooper’s Loretta Jane clothing line

Bold, ballsy, and unapologetically eclectic, New Orleans’ swag-steeped fashion scene is finally getting the attention it deserves. Fashion Week New Orleans and NOLA Fashion Week each held their consecutive inaugural events in March of 2011, garnering some serious press and appreciation for their unique celebrations of Louisiana style and culture. With a focus on regional retailers and a runway open to an unusual spectrum of models (including children and fire-fighters), Fashion Week New Orleans set a precent for holding a less traditional affair. NOLA Fashion Week, on the other hand, followed in the footsteps of more established fashion weeks with invitation-only runway shows and a heavier focus on educational workshops. Despite their distinct approaches, both successfully raised the profiles of local designers, retailers and models, as well as contributing to charitable organizations such as Japanese Earthquake Relief.


This year, InvadeNOLA will be hosting a Street Style Brunch as a part of NOLA Fashion Week, which runs from March 3rd through March 10th. The lineup of events for this year looks pretty damn awesome, including Fashion Markets held at the French Market, music mashup runway shows, and workshops taught by industry professionals on topics ranging from fashion photography to professional makeup techniques to branding strategies. With this first week of fashion right around the corner, I’ve arranged a schedule for all you fashion-forward Invaders, with all my top picks marked (>>INVADER PICK). Each event is linked to its RSVP page with further details, and the full schedule can be viewed here.

Runways and Presentations

*For the frugal fashionista: Tickets for a single show range from $20 – $40; plan accordingly.

Tuesday, March 6th

Libellule Presentation

by Smith Presentation

Loretta Jane Presentation


Wednesday, March 7th

 >>INVADER PICK: VitaminWater presents MASHUP: Where Fashion Meets Music

Featuring Jolie & Elizabeth ft. Royal Teeth, blackout. by Ashlie Ming ft. Big History, and dope. ft. Baby Bee


Thursday, March 8th

Fashion in the Arts District featuring: 

Matthew Arthur

>>INVADER PICK: Cavortress (swimwear show, just in time for the looming spring and summer heat wave!)

Andrea Loest

Amanda DeLeon


Saturday, March 10th

>>INVADER PICK: AVEDA’s Eco-Fashion Day

ft. Time Warp Vintage, H.I.P. Vintage, Noelie Harmon and more


Educational Workshops

Sunday, March 4th

Fashion Illustration Workshop by Briana Burgau

Monday, March 5th

The Life Cycle of a Style with Lisa Iocono

>>INVADER PICK: Organizing Your Life Fashionably with Skye Truax (I’m a total organizing dweeb – could this make me cooler?)

Kids Fashion Day

Tuesday, March 6th

What 7th Ave. Taught Me That I Did Not Learn in School with Suzanne Perron

Friday, March 9th

>>INVADER PICK: Make Me Up: Makeup Tips From an Industry Pro (tips and tricks from an industry pro! BYOM bring your own makeup)

Branding with Julie Wheat of Cavortress

Fashion Market

The Fashion Market will feature emerging independent Southern based and born designer collections, as well as local artisan brands displayed in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Free and open to the public. No RSVP necessary. Friday, March 9th and Saturday, March 10th at the French Market.

Brunches, Parties and More

Saturday, March 3rd

Suzanne Perron Book Launch: “Designing in Ivory and White” (private event)

The Elizabeth Chronicles Launch Party

Retail Shopping Day (Open to the public. No RSVP necessary.)


Sunday, March 4th

NOLAFC Advisory Board, Designer & Sponsor Brunch (private event)

>>INVADER PICK: Street Style Brunch Hosted by InvadeNOLA (duh! Request access here.)

>>INVADER PICK: Goorin Bros. Presents a Pop-Up Salon to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Clinic ($30 for a haircut and cocktail. All proceeds benefit the Clinic.)


Tuesday, March 6th

Material Girl Lounge Hosted by New Orleans Tidbits (see bottom of poster image for details)


Wednesday, March 7th

Material Girl Lounge Hosted by Chanel Craves, Studio Swag and A Pinch of Lovely

Thursday, March 8th

Material Girl Lounge Hosted by


Friday, March 9th

AVEDA’s Green Gala at Eiffel Society

Overview of NOLAFW as told by Joy Theater

Joy Theater Presents

NOLA Fashion Week (NOLAFW) debuted March 2011 and has quickly become a champion of fashion in New Orleans and the greater Southern Region, garnering over 40,000,000 media impressions.

Through NOLAFW, NOLA Fashion Council aims to create opportunity and exposure for both established and up-and-coming Southern based (or born) designers while making an economic and artistic impact on the fashion industry. Biannually, NOLAFW showcases designer talent in Runway Shows and Presentations, offers industry-based Educational Workshops and provides a Fashion Market to both designers and artisans.

NOLAFW promotes New Orleans as the artistic and fashion-forward venue that it already – perfect for editorial coverage. By highlighting the rebirth of the city, all of its amenities and culture, we are helping to put the city on the map as a destination for global Fashion, Entertainment and Art industry events. – Dark styling, rich details and polished collections shine at NOLA Fashion Week

If you’re looking for a way to judge the success of NOLA Fashion Week, you could point to the debut of Libellule, the new label, rich with hand-appliquéed details, by Leigh Reveley and Crickett Lapeyre.

NOLA Fashion Week

Susan Langenhennig, The Times-Picayune Models present looks by Libellule during NOLA Fashion Week.
Photo by Robby Klein NOLA Fashion Week gallery (15 photos)
  • NOLA Fashion Week
  • NOLA Fashion Week
  • Nola Fashion Week
  • NOLA Fashion Week
  • NOLA Fashion Week
NOLA Fashion Week

Susan Langenhennig, The Times-Picayune Models present looks by Libellule during NOLA Fashion Week.
Photo by Robby Klein NOLA Fashion Week gallery (15 photos)

Or you could look at the clever fabric manipulation — quilted leather trims, hand-smocked collars and swaths of silk printed with a black-and-white photograph of Canal Street’s Greenwood cemetery — worked into Amanda deLeon’s dark and moody collection.


Or you could point to the local buyers from Perlis, Abeille NOLA and Hattie Sparks boutiques who filled the second row at the Joy Theater to catch sweet local label Jolie & Elizabeth get a little rock and roll attitude, backed up by a live performance from the Royal Teeth band.

Every time NOLA Fashion Week seemed to reach its high point, I was delighted by some new detail or a refined new approached that illustrated how our local design scene is evolving.

DeLeon hit the nail on the head Thursday night after her sharp showing of 21 looks. “We’re not a joke,” she said, backstage as models shimmied out of dresses. “Designers here are working really hard, and we’ve got talent.”

The evidence of that talent was apparent to anyone who got a close look at the clothes,

In a concise presentation of 13 looks — among them an appliquéed, cap-sleeve dress, a jaunty capelet and a flowing, moss-green goddess gown — Libellule (French for dragonfly) impressed both in its sophistication and its well-edited approach. For a first collection, here was a polished stone, rather than a diamond in the rough.

Using vintage patterns, Reveley and Lapeyre picked traditional silhouettes to provide a familiar canvas for showing off their love of hand embellishment, as well an ability to have great fun with fine fabrics, from cashmeres and silks to a wool-silk-linen blend.

It should be no surprise that Libellule’s freshman collection is a standout. Reveley is not a novice to the needle arts. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and a professional textile conservator, she’s been a regular at local design competitions, and won the Worn Again recycled fashion show a few years back, turning a bag of horrid castoffs into an elegant evening gown.

Reveley and Lepeyre got the idea to join forces when Reveley was restoring Lepeyre’s bridal veil. Both former Carnival queens, the two women share “a love vintage silhouette, early Lanvin style and very detailed clothing,” Reveley said.

Such attention to detail came through in their appliques, which included an airy red maple tree formed of Vera Wang lace and affixed to an empire-waist sheath.

With helpful critiques from veteran designer Seema Sudan of LiaMolly, Lapeyre and Reveley narrowed their focus and their collection. “We wanted it to be very New Orleans, so wanted to do New Orleans plants. We did a resurrection fern; the capelet has Spanish moss; a skirt has the pattern of an acorn on it,” Reveley said.

DeLeon also mined the local landscape for inspiration, and found plenty of fodder in the cemeteries close to her home, as well as in John Boutte’s and Paul Sanchez’s song, “Foot of Canal Street.”

Playing with life, death and architecture themes, deLeon’s collection was a somber study in gray, black, white and crimson. White high-neck collars on dresses brought to mind a Karl Lagerfeld influence, while gold cross lapel chains added a grown-up goth touch.

DeLeon, a Jonesboro native who studied architecture and interior design at Louisiana Tech University, is a stickler for details and is talented with tailoring. One dress was constructed of layers of black leather, sewn like ruffles. To me, it brought to mind dark flower petals, but DeLeon described it as “scales.”

The standout of the show was a cemetery-printed silk gown, something I could imagine Angelina Jolie wearing to the Oscars, though it might have to be modified with a serious slit, if so.

DeLeon was one of the designers presenting during a four-hour, marathon night of back-to-back shows on Thursday evening. With events held at various galleries around the Warehouse District, the high-heeled crowd ambled over cobblestone streets, while models sprinted between venues. Keeping everything rolling and remarkably on time were the calm fashion week founders Nicholas Landry and Andie Eaton, who managed the backstage troops in a chic asymmetrical dress.

Showing at the American Institute of Architects space on Lee Circle was Matthew Arthur, a young designer whose work gets better every season. Arthur has a strong point of view, designing comfy clothes — knit jackets, long skirts, jersey sweatpants — for both men and women to wear lounging and clubbing. His charcoal gray, black and white collection was cohesive.

But the show’s staging distracted from the looks. Models walked out barefoot, with a single strip of tape around their feet. The women’s hair was held back in plastic wrap. Once in front of the crowd, the models took exaggerated slumped and hunched postures, as if terribly burdened by their clothing. The theatrics left me wanting to pull back their shoulders so I could get a better sense of the tailoring and drape.

More black and white, but with bright shocks of pink mixed in, continued the evening’s color theme at Andrea Loest’s presentation of her intricately seamed and patchworked dresses. Part of a “garment system” she created, each dress is a multi-layered piece, fitted in the bodice, with contrasting fabrics, stitching and textures. For fall, she incorporated deconstructed men’s suiting into the skirts, adding a hint of masculinity to the feminine silhouettes.

Earlier in the week, the fashion crowd congregated at the newly reopened Joy Theater for an event that was equal parts music concert and clothing presentation, with bands Royal Teeth, Big History and Baby Bee playing as models presented looks from Jolie & Elizabeth, Blackout by Ashlie Ming and Dope.

“I loved the live music. It made for a great show,” said Meg O’Reilly, owner of Abeille NOLA boutique on Oak Street.

O’Reilly carries Jolie & Elizabeth’s collection, so the event was a preview of what she can expect to see from the New Orleans-made, Southern-styled brand for fall.

“Their spring is really strong; people come in for their seersucker dresses,” she said of the work by designers Jolie Bensen and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey. “This show was a good way to see the direction they’re going for fall and see how it might fit in my store. And it was just fun.”