When people see designer Ashley Porter's light bulb earrings, they invariably ask whether the bulbs light up. The answer is no, but the conversation pieces do spark dialogue about an important issue.
"The concept for the design was about spreading awareness ... about the literacy crisis," Porter says. "It's believed that 20 percent of adults in Louisiana are illiterate — a fact that should be more well-known in order to take measures to eradicate it. "
The "Light Up for Literacy" light bulb earrings are part of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities' (LEH) campaign to improve literacy in Louisiana. Porter came up with the design concept during a "light bulb" moment while sketching in her studio. Soon after, she stumbled upon hundreds of old automotive bulbs in a Texas flea market, which she crafted into drop earrings. The earrings cost $95, and 50 percent of proceeds benefits the LEH.
A California native and Tulane University alumn, Porter returned to New Orleans after attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. She launched her jewelry and accessories label, Porter Lyons, in 2012. Sales of the earthy, Louisiana-inspired pieces benefit the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.
Porter is happy to turn her attention to another pressing local issue. "I'd love to thank the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for taking a chance on what was just an idea last year," Porter says.
She's at work on next year's literacy campaign design, which will include one crucial new element.
"I'm working with a sensor technology to make the [light bulbs] turn on," she says.
You've got your black-and-gold T-shirt, your Hubig's Pies T-shirt and, just maybe, your "I Got Bourbon Faced On Sh*t Street" T-shirt (we won't judge). Now, Gambit has partnered with Storyville to create the official Gambit T-shirt. The creator of the winning design gets $1,000, and the shirt will be sold by Storyville.
"We are looking for designs that don't just look like a generic logo tee," says Storyville co-owner Natalie Naquin Harvey. "We want something unique that really captures how much Gambit is an iconic part of New Orleans life. We really want this to be a design that people all over New Orleans want to wear because they love New Orleans, they love Storyville and they love Gambit. The artwork must be original, and hand-drawn fonts are a huge plus."
They've reinvented seersucker. They've designed the go-to piece for the New Orleans girl (and nationwide customers who wish they were one). Their dresses have been worn by Zooey Deschanel and featured in Forbes, Southern Living and Daily Candy.
And now, Jolie & Elizabeth founders Jolie Bensen Hamilton and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey have sold their 10,000th dress.
After three years and seven seasons, New Orleans Fashion Week (NOLAFW) has ended its run. It is replaced by Southern Design Week, which takes place Nov. 3-9, 2014. Founded by designer, blogger and author Andi Eaton (who was a co-creator of NOLAFW), Southern Design Week is part of Eaton's new company, the Southern Coalition of Fashion and Design (SCFD).
While Southern Design Week differs from its predecessor in some ways (most notably with its name, which sets it apart from other local and regional fashion weeks), its focus will remain the same.
"Eaton's NOLAFW events held a focus on independent designers, and that won't change," says Leonela Guzman, communications director for the SCFD. "However, the company's intention is to primarily focus on the designer, the process of garment creation, and to build a network of resources around the design community. ... The end goal of SCFD is to support Southern makers and the design community in growing sustainable roots."
SCFD is a member organization open to anyone affiliated with the Southern design industry. Though Southern Design Week will take place in New Orleans, Eaton plans to target fashion industry professionals from across the region.
"SCFD will host quarterly education, networking and market events to facilitate industry growth," Guzman says. "Events of this nature will aim to entice designers and industry professionals into New Orleans as a headquarter to their operations."
James Michalopoulos’ Old New Orleans Rum Distillery (2815 Frenchmen St.) hosts the majority of Southern Design Week's runway shows of spring/summer 2015 collections. There will be events and presentations at venues citywide.
SCFD membership passes are on sale at the SCFD blog.
It's almost football season, which means it's time to put together your fiercest game-day ensembles. These new pieces will shame the opponent for saying they'd beat them Saints, or make Mike the Tiger stand right up and roar.
Made with accents of 22-karat gold, this double old-fashioned glass by Mignon Faget offers an elegant alternative to the Solo cup. The glasses will be available in stores by the week of Sept. 12.
Gameday Goddess, a collection of game-day garments, accessories and more (there's a tutorial for a purple-and-gold flower crown) launches this month. The emphasis is on LSU colors, but founder Melissa Mamelli plans to expand to include six more sets of school colors by next football season.
Flying Fox has released a new NFL-compliant cross-body bag. Unlike its predecessors, this one features leather accents and has optional gold foil monogramming.
To kick off Essence Music Festival weekend, Carol’s Daughter hosts a “Cocktails and Curls” party from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, July 4 at Jax Brewery Bistro Bar (620 Decatur St.).
Festivalgoers looking for a little pre-party and some hair love before Prince’s performance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome can attend the event. Carol’s Daughter will give out hair product samples, and one guest will win a $1,000 Target gift card.
If free hair samples aren’t exactly your cup of tea, don’t worry — there will be libations. Complimentary champagne and cocktails will get the party started, and a DJ will provide the beats. RSVP here.
Stephanie Beard, owner of the Austin, Texas-based clothing line Esby, examines a white button-down blouse. “Do we like the sheerness of this shirt?” she asks everyone in the room.
A clothing rack near the wall holds her second collection, still in its early stages of development: a menswear-inspired assortment of blouses, pullovers and trousers. I snap photos, engrossed by Beard’s first fitting with local garment studio Nola Sewn (2101 8th St., Harvey).
“Sheer is pretty in right now. I don’t see a problem with it,” says Nola Sewn director Lisa Iacono.
When it comes to not-so-pleasant aspects of being a woman, bra fittings fall somewhere between eyebrow waxes and Pap smears. However, Tulane University alumnus David Spector and his wife Heidi Zak have cofounded ThirdLove, an online lingerie company that makes it possible for women to get an accurate bra fit without leaving their homes. The expert fitter? A smartphone app.
“A woman can get fit and sized, all from her smartphone,” Zak says. “You put on a tight tank top, take two pictures in the mirror, and we are able to calculate the size of your body in relation to the phone itself.”
Developed by ThirdLove’s in-house team of computer engineers, the one-of-a-kind technology has seven patents, with four additional patents pending. To guarantee a perfect fit, ThirdLove offers half-cup sizes. “A lot of women are between an A and a B or a B and a C,” Zak says. “I am one of them. So I wear a half-cup and have a bra that fits me well for the first time in my life.”
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