Excerpt From 'New Orleans Style'
A new book by stylish Southerner Andi Eaton examines New Orleans fashion neighborhood by neighborhood.
One of the most stylish people in the South, Andi Eaton takes readers on an exciting journey through the ages, neighborhoods and traditions of style in the Big Easy with her new book New Orleans Style. Blended of Spanish, French, African and Caribbean influences, New Orleans’ unique music, food and style have always inspired the rest of the world. Fashion has taken center stage in the city in recent years. Designer of Hazel & Florange, a women’s wear clothing line inspired by the city of New Orleans, and founder of NOLA Fashion Week, Eaton uncovers the remarkable style of the city’s inhabitants, from the Ursuline nuns dressed in the original little black dress to the mysterious trendsetting harlots of Storyville. Join Eaton as she strolls through time and showcases the unique charms of each timeless New Orleans neighborhood. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the book on the Marigny and Bywater areas:
Faubourg Marigny and
There’s an unexplainable magic here which I don’t
bother trying to intellectualize
The Caribbean color palate of the Bywater neighborhood influences the style of dress. Photo by Natalie Mancuso.
Immediately downriver of the Quarter, a live music destination—from the jazz club–lined Frenchman Street to the performance art and gypsy street bands peppering the Bywater—as well as a thriving artist friendly neighborhood home to a punk-style arts district along St. Claude Avenue, the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods have a subculture uniquely their own. Solange Knowles, the hip little sister of Beyonce and owner of a New Orleans boutique, is famous in her own right for her unique sense of casual meets effortlessly cool style, and because of the “magic,” she’s become a resident of what many consider to be the trendiest neighborhood in the city.
The neighborhoods were, until recently, considered two of the most unique and well-kept secrets of New Orleans. The Faubourg Marigny, which was once the plantation of a Creole-born vivant who made the dice game “craps” popular in America and who dazzled New Orleans by his flair and enormous inheritance,125 and the Bywater, named for its postal code, are often likened to the Brooklyn neighborhoods of New York. The neighborhoods combine old-school New Orleans with a bohemian and considerably hip culture.
As prices rose in the 1990s in the French Quarter, young artists and entrepreneurs began moving into the neighborhoods, and as of recent years, the style and happenings have been documented by Vogue (“The Big (Speak) Easy: Secret New Orleans Spots to Uncover”), the New York Times fashion/style magazine T, Garden & Gun and Food & Wine, just to name a few. The neighborhood is packed with some of the coolest hangs in the city, ranging from hipster dives to trendy design-forward spaces. Local favorites are often packed with the city’s trendsetters and tourist looking for off-the-beaten-path fun. The list of the neighborhoods’ favorites spots include Vaughan’s Lounge, the Bywater’s most famous music venue; Mimi’s in the Marigny, a restaurant turned dance hall as the night goes on; the AllWays Lounge, a burlesque club with a rowdy audience; the cozy Apple Barrel, which has live jazz every single night; Bacchanal Wines, a let-your-hair-down joint that can be a daylong experience and includes a worldly menu, a backyard-style stage set-up and a wine bar; Blue Nile and d.b.a., groovy clubs in the “music district” of Frenchman Street; Hi Ho Lounge and Siberia, two oldie underground alternative venues; and the list could go on and on. Within the last few years, new restaurants with fantastic chefs and clean lines have popped up, including Maurepas Foods, Booty’s, Oxalis and Mariza.
The Marigny/Bywater’s hipster cred is actually long term: Jack Kerouac jumped off the cross-country train here in the ’40s to visit New Orleans.126 Today, Creole and Classic Revival cottages that stood abandoned after residents left for the suburbs in the 1950s have been restored. Historic banks, corner stores and even bakeries have been refurbished as homes and guesthouses while riverfront warehouses now accommodate artists’ studios and performance spaces.
Weekends bring shoppers to arts markets, independent galleries, artisan shops and junk stores. There’s a funky style and harmony that create a good time, if an admittedly weird experience for all. As of recent years, more and more outsiders are moving from all over the country into these two neighborhoods. “The storm put New Orleans on the map in a new way: the romantics kept thinking about it,” says one recently transplanted writer living in the neighborhood.”
New Orleans Style is available now from The History Press. Author Andi Eaton is also also founder of the Southern Coalition of Fashion and Design, which is presenting Southern Design Week in New Orleans through November 9. See the full schedule of events here.