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From sculpture to the sewing machine

To hear Sharon Litwin’s interview with Elizabeth Shannon on WWNO-FM, click here.

Friends and admirers of New Orleans-based sculptor, photographer and set design artist Elizabeth Shannon have grown used to her decades-long personal fashion statement: black, black and more black.

“But I’m also associated with wearing white starched shirts in the summer,” she says, laughing about the one aberration from that standard.

Stepping out of her regular artist comfort zone to sculpt clothing as one of the Featured Designers in the upcoming Fashion Week New Orleans runway show has altered that color palette only slightly.

“When I was looking at the list of our creations, I realized that five out of the eight are black,” she said with a laugh.

But not to worry; it’s not the color of the clothing that will set her designs apart. It’s the highly creative re-configuring and re-purposing of pieces from her wardrobe and that of colleague hat designer Kate McNee that will create a buzz.

“We’re going to present eight designs from our own wardrobes as well as some from thrift shops,” Elizabeth explains. “One, for example, is a Vittadini wool dress that I bought in a New York thrift store in the early 1980s.”

A soundtrack of Italian nightclub music from that same ‘80s period will ramp up the energy for the runway models who should, Elizabeth says firmly, “have fun and perform.” None of that hands-by-their-sides, glum-faced sashaying down the runway for Shannon.

The whole experience of re-purposing clothing, figuring out the likes of makeup and the creation of appropriate headpieces has been, she says, “quite an education” and “highly entertaining” because, in essence, she explains, what they are doing is figuring out how to bring into view some of their favorite pieces; turn them inside out, backwards and upside down; and add highly unusual accessories.

Beginning each day at 6 a.m, she grabs a quick cup of coffee, sips it out on her patio and then goes back inside until the evening, stitching away at the sewing machine that has been sitting on her dining room able for the past two months.

To see the end result of this debut foray into the world of runways, models and sound track music, check out the CoLab New Orleans (aka Elizabeth Shannon and Kate McNee) presentation on Saturday, March 23 at the Sugar Mill, 1021 Convention Center Blvd.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and the runway shows start at 6:30. General admission is $40; students are $30; and a VIP access for all activities daily through March 24 is $100. For more information about Fashion Week New Orleans, go to

Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.



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