In its sixth season, New Orleans Fashion Week has proven itself as a major event for Southern style. This year’s fête upgraded to a bigger and better location at the renowned New Orleans Museum of Art, drawing everyone from bloggers to fashion buyers looking to tap into the city’s growing style scene last week. Here, five reasons NOLA Fashion Week stands out from the rest.
1. Because the headliners always impress. Jolie & Elizabeth and Loretta Jane are just two of the lines who have made their way off the NOLAFW runways and into the clothing racks of big stores like Anthropologie and Gus Mayer. The NOLA Fashion Council (a.k.a. the group behind the event) vets designers carefully, making for shows that could stand up to any major market. This year’s scene-stealer award has to go to Lisa Iacono of Dreamcar, who wrapped up her vivacious catwalk of shimmering synthetics and shiny tulles, with models unleashing a cannon of confetti into the crowd. The perfect coup de gras to the evening.
2. Because it’s an incubator for small businesses. NOLAFW touts itself as a tool for entrepreneurs, and this year it delivered on the promise. Off the runway, the NOLA Fashion Council hosted workshops for photographers, boutique owners, and young designers eager to hone their craft. While on the runway the Emerging Designer initiative showed off the talents of newcomers like Zaily Keiffer of HiLo and Ella Rose, a NOLAFW sophomore whose feminine designs of hand-painted pastel prints and dainty circle skirts will surely find their way into your closets soon.
3. Because the venues are filled with character. The shows kicked off with Hazel & Florange and Camilyn Beth showing their collections at a construction site (future home of the Union Hotel) in the Central Business District—a rustic, outdoor setting that suited New Orleans’ ability to blend grit with glamour. The remainder of NOLAFW took place inside of the gorgeous New Orleans Museum of Art, the city’s oldest fine arts museum dating back to 1911. Only in NOLA can you see feminine frocks floating through a construction site one day and art-insired fashion in a world-class museum the next.
4. Because the street style rocks. Unfettered by the latest trends, spectators used NOLAFW as an opportunity to pull their most adventurous outfits off the hangers. The evening shows dictated the overall style tone. Those at shows like Jolie & Elizabeth and Libellule represented classic deb attire with prim a-line dresses, and color blocked frocks, while the crowd at avant-garde shows like Noel Martin and Matthew Arthur sported a more punk-rock aesthetic with flannel button downs, black lipstick, and combat boots. Always a muse, NOLAFW co-founder Andi Eaton (above) stood out each night with her array of edgy-and-artsy ensembles. (Follow Andi’s blog OuiWeGirl.com for more on her fearless fashion).
5. Because the shows break the mold. This year, mother-daughter team Natalia Piraro-Bendy and Kim Piraro’s debuted Dama Talya, a plus-size line that debunks stereotypes of double-digit fashion. The entire collection was champagne, gold, white, and tan bucking the tendency to wear curve-concealing dark shades and embracing the Big Easy’s unapologetic mentality. The ladies showed spectators that plus size fashion is a must, not a concession.
If like us you’re hungry for more Big Easy fashion, follow the NOLA Fashion Council to see what events they have planned throughout the year. And keep up with the NOLA Defender to get the skinny on the latest Crescent City happenings.
This is a guest post by M.D. Dupuy (@DevoDupuy), deputy managing editor at NOLA Defender (@NolaDefender), a digital daily for New Orleans news, style, and culture.