Tag - New Orleans Fashion Council

NOLA Fashion Week – Market and Shows- Day 4
NOLA Fashion Week- Day 3
NOLA Fashion Week – Day 2

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 saintclaudenola.com 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 shophautechocolate.com, 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 thefairfit.com 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 andrealoest.com 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.

NOLA Fashion Week- Day 3

New Orleans Fashion Week day three brought out another league of designers, this time there were four that evening: Iacono, Kallen Forster, Jolie & Elizabeth and The Dope. Game.

Iacono was the first line to grace the runway that evening. Designer Lisa Iacono’s Holiday ’12/Spring ’13 collection was inspired by fabrics, particularly from the 70s and 80s, when the ‘Disco Era’ and Studio 54 dominated the music scenes that were mainly prominent in New York City and Philadelphia. “Something about those slinky fabrics [and sexy silhouettes] on the dance floor gives me goosebumps!” Iacono states. To me, the line told the story of a ‘day in the life’ of a woman in the late 70s that went backwards- going from party attire to work/casual-play attire. I loved the floral halter dress, the white mini skirt with a rosette draped at the waist, the off-shoulder embroidered flutter dress and the breezy high-neck blouse. The Iacono brand is made locally, in collaboration with Nola Sewn…after all, Lisa helped to found this New Orleans staple, along with Tam Huynh. She explains her story, “When I moved to New Orleans, I could not source local manufacturing. Through serendipitous googling, I was able to connect with Tam Huynh, who managed a large scale menswear factory in New Orleans for 25 years until it shut down post-Katrina. She had moved on to manage a defense contract factory (producing tanks, ammo, etc), but she was willing to help me get the sewing contracted, as she still had connections with many of her sewing employees from the menswear factory…Together with two sewers, Tam and I produced the Iacono Holiday 2011 collection from a rented space in her brother’s auto repair shop. As my friends in the fashion industry noticed the quality of the work, they wanted to have their lines produced as well. At the same time, more sewers were catching wind of the work, and were beginning to seek Tam out for sewing contracts. Tam and I knew there was a reason to start a factory together, and so Nola Sewn was born. We currently have contracts with thirty different designers, including myself.” As you can obviously see, after only two years (the line was launched in October 2011) it’s no wonder that Iacono is blossoming. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Iacono and Nola Sewn! She also included divine beaded clutches from Madâm Sara and jewelry from Saint Claude. More on them in my “day four” coverage!

The next collection to hit the runway consisted of five pieces. The collection was indeed small, but I was very happy that the models stood for a few moments in front of the media pit…just enough time to get the perfect shot and details of the gorgeous looks. This collection belonged to Kallen Forster and was her Masters Thesis Collection for LSU. Forster teamed up with three womens cooperatives in Kenya, Peru and Bolivia to create simple, yet impeccably detailed garments for her S/S13 collection. These garments were hand-beaded, loom-woven and knitted with socially responsible materials such as: 100% organic hemp, silk and cotton twills. This contemporary-casual collection merges classic, fun yet wearable silhouettes with iconic ‘tribal’ prints that were pre-specified by Kallen. Not only does this collection help to empower the women in those three cooperatives, but it is also inspired by The Design Lab- a local New Orleans socially responsible design cooperative that Kallen herself had founded; to train, empower and employ the local women in various design techniques. She also featured jewelry and handbags from Rural Revolution-a New Orleans based company that is dedicated to also empowering and employing women artisans in impoverished countries. Please check out kallenforster.com for more details and to place a bid on the collection that was shown during Fashion Week. 100% of the proceeds from the auction go to benefit Toto Knits, Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and The Design Lab.

Jolie & Elizabeth was the next company that presented their collection of fun and girly dresses for their S/S13 collection. The brand was launched in April 2010 by Sarah Dewey and Jolie Benson and was and is still inspired by their southern roots. For this collection, they kept with their traditional seersucker, but also incorporated pretty pastels and some darker hues in high-quality fabrics. Their designs are the classic silhouettes that are traded up to be feminine, fun yet functional for work or play. Jolie & Elizabeth is proudly made in New Orleans and also strives to give back to the community. Ladies, why not get yourselves ready for Spring and stock up on pretty dresses by Jolie & Elizabeth- go to jolieandelizabeth.com to shop, book a showroom appointment or get further details on the brand.

The last designer of the evening was The Dope. Game, based in Baton Rouge, LA and was launched in 2008 by Courtney Howells and Tyrus Thomas (who later joined the team in 2010). The brand showcased ‘dope’ tees and hats that are inspired by the 90s hip-hop and sneaker cultures. The Dope. Game’s one mission is “to be an example of doing things your own way.” Check out thedopegame.com for additional information and to shop the collection.

Stay tuned for day four!

NOLA Fashion Week – Day 2

Day two of New Orleans Fashion Week was held in the same location in The Saratoga with two more designers that evening. We had the pleasure of viewing the collections of Mesdress and Loretta Jane, both feminine and wearable for working and playing in New Orleans.

LSU alumna Molly Stackhouse showcased her line- Mesdress (mess-dress) down the runway first. I loved the play on architectural geometric shapes and color-blocking. My two favorite pieces from the collection were the “Crystal” maxi dress and “Diamond” maxi skirt. I loved the rich sky blue with white trim on the dress. The dress screamed Spring/Summer 2013, but I’d wear it any season; whether layered up or not, as Austin weather is not very ‘wintery’ right now, so it would be perfection! The skirt is just as lovely, with diamond shapes on the sides, which obviously pays homage to its name- “Diamond” maxi skirt. The rest of the collection was simple, clean and wearable for any climate. She has partnered with the folks at Nola Sewn and is keeping her line local. She plans to continue being successful in designing ready-to-wear and to grow her business outside Louisiana.

Side Note: Due to a heartbreaking error, I am unable to retrieve the photos of the Mesdress show. I was able to save my instagram photo of the finale, but that is all. Folks and Molly, I REALLY apologize for the error. Please see mesdress.com for additional information and you can find more pictures of the line on Google or Facebook.

The last brand to grace the runway was another local brand by the name of Loretta Jane. Loretta Jane was launched in 2009 by Kelli Cooper. In 2010, she moved to New Orleans from Nashville and continues to manufacture the line in NOLA. Since its launch, this flirty and ultra-feminine line has been a hit in the South (with all the breezy fabrics, I can see why). The collection exuded playful whimsy and ranged anywhere from chic separates to dresses that one would wear to brunch or even an event, dressed up with heels or down with flats. The collection also was very on-trend with today’s market, with pretty polka-dot blouses, shorts and rompers, mixing of prints, dainty shorts with scalloped edges and structured strapless dresses. Keep Loretta Jane in mind when you need something chic, effortless and made locally. Check out lorettajane.com for further details.

Stay tuned for day three, featuring four designers.

**Mesdress Spring/Summer 2013 photos are used with permission from Mesdress**

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