Last week saw a spate of runway shows, cocktail parties and workshops as NOLA Fashion Week and Fashion Week New Orleans unfolded citywide. With venues ranging from the sleekly renovated Joy Theater to the weathered, atmospheric Pharmacy Museum, the stylish events were celebrations not only of fashion, but also of the eclectic, time-weathered spaces endemic to New Orleans.
One particularly noteworthy marriage was the by Smith show, hosted by the Marigny Opera House. The 19th-century cathedral's weathered brick served as a muted, textured counterpoint to a procession of vividly hued, classic garments. "I loved the space," says designer Smith Sinrod. "It was a great way to showcase the line because the clothes popped." Also complementing the designs were the musical stylings of Minos the Saint, a self-described "chamber folk" band.
Raised in Pensacola, Fla., Sinrod is married to a New Orleans native and now lives in New York, where her garments are produced. She has shown her collections at Miami Fashion Week, Jacksonville Fashion Week, Birmingham Fashion Week and Nashville Fashion Week. The Southern influence factors heavily in her designs.
"My great-grandmother, who was from Alabama, is my go-to inspirational Southern lady," Sinrod says. "She never left her house without the perfect outfit, styled with great shoes and accessories. I try to create pieces in each collection where you can have a 'match matchy' outfit or you can mix and match. I find we have more of our 'match matchy' girls down south."
Sinrod's fall 2014 collection was just the right degree of ladylike, with sharp lines and severe, almost monastic black-and-white palettes saving the dresses and suits from primness. It's a sharp contrast from the dominant street style Sinrod sees in New Orleans: "The fashion scene in New Orleans is interesting because it seems to be preppy-meets-hipster Williamsburg," she says.
Though fashion meccas like New York and Milan have long dominated the industry, Sinrod says regional fashion weeks are a force to be reckoned with. "Each show we have participated in has been very unique with incredible teams, models and show talent," she says. "The exposure we have received through these shows has been great. New Orleans supports great local artists and talent, which is so inspirational to be exposed to. I also go for the amazing food - can you blame me?"
The designer says her fall 2014 will be available in area boutiques. "More details to come," she says.