Poets often liken women to flowers, but to Patricia Steere, the essence of feminine beauty is strong, unpredictable and even deadly. That vision is reflected in the name of her boutique, A Girl Is A Gun (6010 Magazine St., 504-891-4475; www.-agirlisagun.com). Steere's love for a time when women truly dressed up, donning hats and gloves on a daily basis, inspired her to open her shop last year.
"You look in the streets sometimes, and you see people looking like they don't care," Steere says. "My inspiration is to spread the care."
Her edgy-yet-glamorous aesthetic is evident in her own ensembles as well as the shop's furnishings: Andy Warhol prints, a TV playing film noir movies and classic books like Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. The shop offers vintage-inspired garments tinged with old Hollywood glamour. There are handbags, costume jewelry and screen-printed T-shirts and hair accessories the shop owner makes herself.
Steere thinks of dresses as weapons and accessories as ammunition. She considers her pieces to be tools that help women get ready to face their day.
"Every woman has had that experience of getting dressed to go out," Steere says. "You're getting dressed, and it's really like the old days when men would go into battle and put on their armor — you're putting on lipstick or nail polish or these items, and it's like putting on your weaponry."
Garments run the gamut from sweet sundresses to figure-hugging, jewel-tone dresses Marilyn Monroe would covet. Elbow-length gloves are reminiscent of those worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's. Sizes range from XS to 2X, and dresses cost less than $200, providing choices for many different body types and budgets.
Although the dresses are inspired by the past, they aren't meant to be worn as costumes. Steer suggests mixing things up, combining pieces from different eras to create a unique, personal outfit. "In your daily life, adding a touch of vintage is a cool thing to do, as opposed to going to a major department store and buying what everyone is wearing," she says.
Steere encourages women to fall in love with dressing up in preparation for wherever the day might take them.
"You find yourself [wearing yoga wear every day], and you look at your closet full of clothes and you're like, 'Oh, I only wear those for special occasions,'" she says. "Well, what is your life if not one grand special occasion?"