New Orleans is a city that encourages creativity and freedom of expression and an “anything goes” attitude when it comes to fashion. It’s a place filled with shops, and costumes are encouraged year-round, but it’s also a city where you’ll find plenty of timeless Southern traditions as well. Whether you prefer holographic space suits or a cute seersucker dress, the following designers work to ensure that all ranges of sartorial needs are met.
A former sculptor, designer Alicia Zenobia found her true calling as a costume-maker who creates playful, brightly colored holographic bodysuits and other customized items that are available via her online store. In a city where sporting costumes year-round is encouraged, she is a go-to source for one-of-a-kind outfits that make her customers stand out in a crowd as fantastical, otherworldly beings from outer space or under the sea.
While working in the fashion industry in New York City, Jolie Bensen Hamilton and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey bonded over their New Orleans roots and eventually decided to move back home to collaborate, Southern-style. Now their business Jolie and Elizabeth is booming and has gained acclaim not just in the Crescent City but beyond. (Actress Zooey Deschanel sported one of their creations in an episode of The New Girl.) Their designs are distinctly classic and Southern – their seersucker offerings are exceptionally popular. Another source of pride for the dynamic duo is the fact is that all of their designs are manufactured in Louisiana.
An actress, playwright and multi-talented creative industry professional, Tabitha Bethune incorporates her love for the stage into her designs by using rich, vibrant fabrics and gowns for both high-fashion and more casual everyday attire. Evident in her work is a respect for classic fashions of the past combined with contemporary aesthetics and bold patterns. She is also a frequent participant in the New Orleans Fashion Week.
New Orleans might generally be thought of as a laid-back town, but Pedram Taheri’s designs are anything but. His stunning, ethereal and intricate gowns exude an antique type of glamour with a contemporary twist. Hollywood celebrities and reality stars are often frequently spotted in his designs on the red carpet or while out on the town. Though he’s based in New Orleans, his creations are sold around the country at various high-end boutiques.
Yvonne LaFleur has been providing custom millinery pieces and other clothing designs for almost 50 years for New Orleanians of all ages. She has become a household name, particularly among those who frequently attend balls, debutante parties and other high-profile events. Her store is 10,000 square feet, filled with timeless looks. Her shop also sells formal and casual dresses and attire, along with a signature fragrance. Additionally, she carries lingerie and accessories. Everything in the store is either designed by LaFleur or is personally curated by her: “It’s a collection that I put together,” she says. “It’s been my passion, and New Orleans has been a great place to do it.” LaFleur adds that her shop is a popular destination for visitors from out of state. “Every city in America has the same stores and the same merchandise,” she says. “So this is a mecca for out-of-towners, too.”
Ellen Macomber is a multidisciplinary artist whose works are spotted all over town, whether in the form of a painting, glasswork, mural or fashion accessory. She also owns her own boutique and gallery space on Magazine Street, where she sells ties, scarves, accessories, costume pieces and her latest inventions, a collection of kimonos that are hand-sewn with sequins and funky designs. Her work is often playful and colorful, with a bohemian flair to it that reflects her travels as well as her inspiration drawn from the city of New Orleans.