NOLA Fashion Week – Market and Shows- Day 4

The last day of New Orleans Fashion Week (for me anyway) consisted of not just the shows, but also a fashion market that was set up in an alley beside Merchant Cafe. The market consisted of: Jolie & Elizabeth, Andrea Loest, Eklektik Ekhos, Construct Jewelry, Libellule, Madâm Sara, Saint Claude, Rural Revolution, Tradition by Lawrence Kennedy, and the Design Lab (Kallen Forster). I grabbed a latte and proceeded to the market. Three brands that stood out in my opinion were: Madâm Sara, Saint Claude and Eklektik Ekhos.

Madâm Sara handbags were included in Iacono’s show and I was pleased that they were being showcased in the market. The small clutches are hand-beaded by a select group of vodou flag artisans in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “Madâm Sara” is the the Creole term that’s used in Haitian culture to describe the women who transport goods to the market. The sequins and beading are richly done in intricate patterns, as well as the familiar chevron pattern. The colors are just ripe with vibrance. The main artist they are working with- Lafleur- is just uber-talented and even has his work displayed in Port-au-Prince’s international airport. I hope that the handbag line comes up with some larger envelope-style clutches, because I will grab those up! Be sure to “LIKE” Madâm Sara on Facebook!

Saint Claude jewelry is a local New Orleans brand that was founded by Sarah Killen in 2008 and mainly specializes in accessories made from vintage and upcycled materials. What caught my eye immediately was a pendent made from an okra…. I mean seriously…How cool is that?! Sarah credits nature as being her biggest inspiration, so when she noticed that okra in her garden, it was like a match made in heaven. She just recently launched her metal collection in June 2011 as hasn’t looked back. Each piece is made with love and since it’s made locally, Sarah feels that that quality was not sacrificed (and I wholeheartedly agree). “Each piece is made to last and you really do get what you pay for. I want my pieces to be unique and timeless,” Sarah explained. Saint Claude jewelry would make lovely holiday gifts (prices range from $40-240), so I suggest checking out for more information and to shop your hearts out. And Sarah, if you are reading this…save me an okra necklace. I totally need one for my “neckparty”!

I had actually met the designer of Eklektik Ekhos- Douriean Fletcher- during one of the fashion week shows because her outfit was awesome and I just had to talk to her. That was when she told me about her participation in the Fashion Market. Oh and she was wearing her AH-mazing jewelry, a brass ring with ornate wire-wrapping and an earcuff. So let’s just say that when I saw her collection at the market, I was jawdroppingly impressed. Her jewelry screamed “statement” in every form and I could just see the passion and creativity in each piece. Douriean launched the line in June 2010 and it was July 2010 when she moved back to New Orleans from Pasadena, CA and her work began to really evolve. She has since been highlighted in numerous press and events and it was after her participating in Paris’s Fashion Weekend that she began to create pieces on a more larger and statement-worthy scale. During NOLAFW, her pieces were inspired by the natural elements of earth, water, air and fire. Prices for the collections start from $40 and up. I’m excited to keep following this jewelry designer, who has hardcore wire-wrapping skills and uses minimal tools. Definitely check out Eklektik Ekhos if you’re in the mood for something above the norm and you want to make a statement at your next event.

Back at The Saratoga, where the last four designers showcased their latest collections, Haute Chocolate, Brennan Manuel, Fair Fit and Andrea Loest…..

I had the fortunate opportunity to meet up with Haute Chocolate designer Terysa over beignets and did some sightseeing in the French Quarter before we both had to head back to the hotel to get ready for that evening’s shows. It was after a fateful sewing class in high school that she was hooked on designing clothing and since then, she was been doing custom orders. She launched the company in Spring 2011 and hasn’t looked back. Her S/S13 collection, which consisted of simple, yet chic dresses and suits that was inspired by the woman she’s always aspired to be. She continues explaining, “She’s very very chic, with subtle hints of sexy. I’ve been a lover of color for as long as I can remember so I definitely added tons of little elements of me into this collection – I also didn’t want to focus on defining curves this season, but I did want to accentuate them – so I also added into tiny details to draw a little attention to them.” I loved that this collection was versatile and that you could wear it to the office and then add the right accessories and go straight to a party. There were a few pieces that were classic silhouettes, but when the model turned to reveal the back, I was surprised with feminine features such as bows, a cut-out back or a plunging back. I also thought that the giant crystal spider brooch was a nice addition to the skirt suit- a great start to the show. Terysa has also informed me that she is doing a ’12 Days of Christmas’ giveaway, which started Monday the 10th and goes through the 21st. So be sure to not only check out, but also follow the brand on Facebook and Twitter to see what she’s giving away.

Next up, we have menswear by Brennan Manuel. The show began with female models, or ‘flower girls’ that paraded down the runway throwing rose petals in preparation for the men to walk the path. One of the themes of the collection was “sunset” and consisted of staples in heavy and light fabrics that breathe life into the meaning of ‘menswear.’ The wearer is able to mix n’ match (or layer) according to his needs or life’s adventures and still feel comfortable and confidant. Brennan’s mission statement “is not to stifle the creativity of the artist or to obscure the presentability of the businessman, but to merge the two through an aesthetic that focuses on fabrication, fit, and functionality.” The FIT and law school alum strives to create clothing for the young man who is transitioning from college to his professional career. His clothing is only available through custom orders at this time, but plans to expand to produce the line in New Orleans, as it’s his hometown and he wants to be able to give back to the community and bring in more jobs to the area.

The next brand to showcase their collection was Fair Fit- created by Andrea Loest and introducing a capsule menswear collection in collaboration with Paul Eastin. The womenswear collection consisted of simple cotton dresses that were hand-dyed and had different fabrics intricately collaged together. The name “Fair Fit” is derived from the fact that the company prides itself on exemplary tailoring and how ‘on point’ the fit is to the client’s measurements. The mens and womens collection were styled in a way that pertains to on-trend streetwear to show their versatility. I think that the line is quite unique and wearable, especially when it’s designed to fit your exact measurements. Check out for additional information regarding the “Fair Fit” system and to shop the collection.

The last collection of the evening was Andrea Loest’s self-titled collection, which was a more higher-end couture take on Fair Fit. They are Andrea’s conceptual dresses that showcase her current studio art practice. Loest goes on to explain further, “The surface design of the garment attempts to capture two stories- a childhood spent on an Iowa farm and its translation into a life of New Orleans. Structure and form are collapsed into a collage of stitches, surface design and texture with modern cutouts and contemporary styling. The dresses amplify an ornate New Orleans aesthetic, their raw unfinishing portrays dense and decaying architecture juxtaposed and layered with hand-dyed, bleached and deconstructed images of the prairie.” Again, the actual dress silhouettes are classic and simple yet the construction is immaculate and contoured to hug the right curves on the model’s body. Loest’s show was a great ending to a great fashion week! Check out to shop and for more information.

I want to thank Mr. LAFashionsnob, Amtrak, the designers, models, The Saratoga, the Hotel Modern– I really enjoyed my stay. Thank ya’ll for making me feel welcome. To Lauren, Andi, Nick- I seriously can’t thank you guys enough. I mean, if it weren’t for helping me with the hotel stay, I wouldn’t have been able to make it. You guys rock and I am so blessed to have been able to experience the city of New Orleans and its fashion scene. I hope I’m able to come back for another round next year. For more information on NOLAFW and updates for 2013, check out their website.

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