Mark Kirk, artist and co-owner of Unique Products Inc.
Artist Mark Kirk believes in turning the common upside down. In his hands, and those of his business partner Heather MacFarlane, Mardi Gras beads become chandeliers that grace casinos in Las Vegas, homes in New Orleans and the new Jacques-Imo's restaurant in New York. Empty laundry detergent containers become lamps, and Carnival trinkets are melded into resin rings and pendants that are sold all over the United States as well as Canada and Australia.
Kirk shuns the mundane, both in his art and his personal style, opting instead for colorful, often quirky ensembles that are as playful as his personality.
"My personal style is just to keep that identity, where I don't see myself on the street," he says. "I don't want to stick out in the middle of a crowd like a sore thumb, but in the background -- but you notice me. I just want to keep my own identity."
He opts for colorful combinations in shirts, pants and socks (he rarely wears matching socks) and does much of his shopping at Winky's, where his UP gallery occupies the upper floor. Shoes are a favorite component, which he wears as a decorative accessory like most people wear jewelry or ties.
For an upscale occasion, he's chosen a bright red tuxedo shirt with black embroidery trimming the ruffles by Krew, $60; black pin-stripe jeans by Be Ethic, $59; white lace-up shoes with a black checkerboard pattern around the toe by t.u.k., $42; a fused-glass pendant by UP, $15; and resin rings, one with a miniature car trinket and another with a gold Elvis embedded in them by UP, $10 each; all from Winky's (2038 Magazine St., 568-1020).
Heidi Friedler, interior designer
Combining diverse elements into a visually pleasing package is what Heidi Friedler does best, both in her profession as an interior designer and in her personal style. When it comes to fashion, she prefers muted colors and basic black, but she stands out because of her acumen at assembling elegant outfits with an understated edginess and always a little surprise kick.
"On a day-to-day basis I probably put comfort first, but I want to have a little something different to stand out," she says. "That's usually going to be a belt, shoes or a pin. (When I go out) at night, I like to pay more attention."
Friedler says she prefers black pieces for evening wear and has several standards she pulls from her closet repeatedly to mix-and-match with different pieces or to dress up with items from her vintage jewelry collection or eye-catching shoes.
"I like to put things together and have it be something I haven't done before," she says. "I always feel safe in black ... and I like longer skirts. I have a lot of interesting pieces that I keep in my closet [sometimes for years] and match them with little cardigans and camisoles."
Here she chose a black taffeta skirt -- which she shortened from floor length to tea length -- with vertical ruffles on inverted pleats by Teri Jon, $510, from Mimi (5500 Magazine St., 269-6464; a soft black cardigan and lace high heels from her closet; a large, vintage rhinestone brooch of a flower from the 1940s by Eisenberg, $375, from Jezebel's (4610 Magazine St., 895-7784); a woven raw-silk handbag with rhinestone buckles on the straps by Lorenza, $425, from Pied Nu (5521 Magazine St., 899-4118); and a one-of-a-kind dyed squirrel wrap lined with silk and chantilly lace by Cynthia Rose, $1,990, from Mimi.
Wendy Wolfe Rodrigue, gallery director
A patron and aficionado of the arts, Wendy Rodrigue, a director for husband George Rodrigue's art galleries in New Orleans and California, applies her keen eye for beauty to her personal fashions. Wendy, who also is an editor and ghost writer for her husband's book Blue Dog Man and co-author of Blue Dog Love, loves the bright colors present in her husband's Blue Dog and Hurricane series paintings and likes to play up her femininity in her clothing choices.
"I think [my fashion preference] is sort of sexy sophisticated, and I'm sort of romantic," she says. "I really like color, too -- color, flowers, chiffon and frills."
Even when she opts for conventional business wear, they have a flair to them.
"If I wear a suit, it would be hot pink and the skirt would be short, and maybe tight," says Wendy, who is 5-foot-10-inches tall. "I also love to wear heels. They make me feel like a woman."
That style has been developed through her frequent travels to the galleries she operates here and in Carmel, Calif., and her appreciation of the art scene in general, which she promotes among her staff as well as through small classes she teaches at the gallery each month. She also encourages the gallery staff to take "field trips" to destinations such as the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Sidney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at City Park and other local art venues.
She expresses her style beautifully in a teal kabuki dress with red embroidered flowers around the V-neckline and a black waist wrap designed by Trashy Diva owner Candice Gwinn, $238; a black crystal bracelet, $107; a vintage gold necklace with red enamel ornaments, $225; and a black handbag with oversized bead handles and a satin bow by La Regale, $55; all from Trashy Diva (829 Chartres St., 581-4555; 2048 Magazine St., 299-8777). Makeup by Robert Hudson of Makeup by Robert Hudson (603 ? Metairie Road, Metairie, 837-0905).
Lisa Pulitzer, architect
High design, quality construction, authentic materials and functionality are all imperative to architect Lisa Pulitzer, both in the buildings she constructs and renovates and in her personal fashions. Although her frequent work at construction sites -- she was the architect for the new St. Charles Vision complex at the corner of St. Charles and Carrollton avenues -- requires that she wear no-nonsense clothes that can get dirty and allow her to manueuver through and under structures, she also has to present an appearance that displays her sense of style to clients who hire her to build beautiful spaces.
"Mostly I wear flip-flops and shorts and paint-spattered pants on job sites," says Pulitzer, who also is a jewelry designer when she has the time. "But then I'll have to run home, take a shower, dress and get people to pay me to do their buildings -- and look like I'm worth it."
In her fashions, as in her professional work, she prefers well-constructed clothing that is made from natural materials and embodies a sense of visual style. "My job definitely influences my style. I like feminine clothes that are very comfortable. ... Being exposed to the elegant architecture that we have -- the proportions and everything -- that is what I look for in clothes: how it's stiched, how it's made, the materials."
Making jewelry, she says, also has influenced her wardrobe, changing her preferences from basic pearls and gold creations to necklaces, bracelets and earrings that incorporate a lot of natural stones and gems in interesting designs. "It made getting dressed so much more fun," she admits.
Here, Pulitzer selected the tailored fit of a cotton knit V-neck wrap dress with a brown-and-beige geometric design, a cuff with a tie and pockets by Diane von Furstenberg, $345; brown crock mules with high heels by Charles David, $175; both from Total Woman (3964 Magazine St., 891-3964); a knotted lariat Pulitzer made with jade, pearls, crystals and Japanese seed beads and earrings she made with Swarovski crystals. Makeup by Robert Hudson of Makeup by Robert Hudson (603 ? Metairie Road, Metairie, 837-0905).
Anaïs Patterson, teacher, model, singer
The word "diva" may well have been coined to adequately describe Anaïs Patterson, a local renaissance woman who is an opera (and most recently a cabaret) singer, a chorus teacher at Holy Cross High School, a model for several local talent agencies and a bartender at Le Chat Noir.
Although in her day job as a chorus teacher at an all-boy school she dresses conservatively, once she leaves those environs she likes to present a different visage, one that mixes classic designs with a touch (or more) of sexiness.
"I always think of my style as classic with a touch of sexy," says Patterson, whose opera performances include Porgy and Bess and the upcoming La Traviata. "I like to mix them both. Singing opera and cabaret, both of these genres have elements of classy and sexy, especially opera. It's fun, because you get to play roles you wouldn't normally play."
With a birthday that falls a week before Halloween, Patterson says she delights in dressing up in costumes and has a closet filled with options she pulls out at Halloween, Mardi Gras and every other chance she gets.
"One of my favorite things to do is dress in costume," she says. "That's why I like living in New Orleans. I love being different characters; it's so much fun. When I go out, I dress as if I'm going to be onstage. Most of us wouldn't admit it, but most women want to be the center of attention."
Center stage is all hers in a black satin halter gown with a twist at the hip, tear-drop at the bustline and a long side slit, $499; made more evident with a rhinestone bow pin, $129. The outfit is completed with opera-length black satin gloves, $39; and oval drop rhinestone earrings, $69; all from Yvonne LaFleur (8131 Hampson St., 866-9666). Makeup by Robert Hudson of Makeup by Robert Hudson (603 1/2 Metairie Road, Metairie, 837-0905).
Don Guillory, actor
Although he sometimes plays flamboyant characters, such as his portrayal of gangsta Bennie the Jet that won him a Big Easy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Southern Repertory Theater's 2003 production of In Walks Ed, Don Guillory says his personal fashion preferences are understated elegance and conservative with a surprise punch.
"I like to wear suits, navy blue, black, gray, solid suits, but with a little contrasting color," says Guillory, who recently left New Orleans to earn a master of fine arts degree in acting at Tisch School of the Arts in New York City. "I'm not too wild with my suits, but I always like to add a little bit of color to bring out some interest."
Guillory describes himself as a dramatic actor who likes to try his hand at all kinds of roles and has worked for a number of local theater companies. "I've worked all over the city, working with all kinds of people," he says. "That's how you learn. I just follow the spirit, and what happens, happens."
That easy-going attitude translates into a comfort with himself when it comes to dressing. He says he doesn't feel he has to wear flashy clothes to be noticed and prefers good taste to high visibility.
"My personal style is classic with a flair," he says. "I've always thought that the guy and the attitude make the clothes." His classic elegance shows through in a black, single-breasted wool suit by Ermenegildo Zegna, $925; a pink cotton dress shirt with a front breast pocket by Eton, $185; a pink plaid pocket kerchief, $45; a black-and-pink tweed silk tie, $135; and a black leather belt with a silver rectangular buckle, $155; all from Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666).