Fashion in the Crescent City, like everything else that originates there, is colorful. People dress to express their joy, to express their personalities. Entire aesthetic movements have been launched there. So it makes perfect sense that the city’s style is the subject of its own colorful and captivating book. What is more surprising is that it took this long for such a book to be published.
Andi Eaton, the author of New Orleans Style, is herself something of a modern-day Big Easy fashion icon. As founder of NOLA Fashion Week, now called Southern Design Week for its expanded reach, she showcases the garments being created by the region’s rising fashion stars. She also designs her own line of womenswear, Hazel & Florange, which she calls a “celebration of Southern charm.”
“New Orleans is a living and breathing culture full of much spirit and history,” writes Eaton in the book. “From the very beginning, it has been a city of vibrant dreams, full of quirky creativeness everywhere.”
For those who tuned out during their eighth-grade Louisiana history classes, Eaton opens the book by launching into a refresher course on the internationally influenced events that helped to shape New Orleans beginning several centuries ago. The “mash up” of cultures formed there along the river would provide a lasting influence on the city’s design ideals. French immigrants shipped in to be married, women of the red-light district, and even the Ursuline nuns were among the earliest trend setters here, the author explains.
Then came department stores D.H. Holmes and Maison Blanche, along with Rubensteins, called “one of the most famed men’s stores in the United States,” and Yvonne LaFleur, a half-century-old ladies’ boutique à la mode Parisienne. There were flapper fashions in the jazz era and the custom gowns and flamboyant parade costumes that still reign each carnival season.
Today, the apparel industry is thriving in New Orleans, with garment-making facilities crafting high-end merchandise and designers finding new inspiration there below sea level.
“The aesthetics and fashion sense of New Orleans natives range from fresh and cool to quirky and eccentric,” Eaton writes. “Coupled with the costumes and couture of Mardi Gras, as well as festival fashions, the diversity of style is as wide as that of the city’s people.”