New Orleans fashion entrepreneur Andi Eaton offers an historical account of New Orleans, using glimpses of the past to interpret modern-day fashion of the Crescent City in her new book, New Orleans Style. Traveling back to the birthplace of New Orleans culture at the mouth of the Mississippi, Eaton weaves through time to showcase how the melding of French, Spanish, African, Caribbean and other immigrant cultures establishes what we see on the streets today, something uniquely New Orleans. The fashion of New Orleans is, not unlike its architecture, an evolution of both necessity and artistic expression.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ms. Eaton (and her very cool rescue dog) in her Marigny studio, where she provided me with details of how she approached the project and her inspiration moving forward.
“When I was first approached to write the book New Orleans style, I thought about the inspiration for the book that I would be taking on” says Eaton. “There were a couple of things that stood out to me when I first moved to this city — the style of dress, the style of fabrics, the love of celebrations of fashions and the festivals and the music were major influences. The reason why I fell in the love with the city and why I wanted to call this place home.”
Eaton, inspired by both the city and its people, sees “fashion as part of the celebration,” a motto applicable to styles of the past and what is worn today. The influence of the early jazz musicians in their three-piece suits can be seen in an updated form on the modern stage. Landmark fashion retailor, Rubenstein’s, remains a staple for men coming of age in New Orleans. The evolution of ladies fashion is on display from local designers like Jolie Benson, whose seersucker frocks are a natural fit for both the heat and humidity of the South
While not discounting the darker side to New Orleans history, Eaton chooses to highlight the positive outcomes of the various subcultures developing amid the alluring veil of the Crescent City. New Orleans Style celebrates the contributions of all players from streetwalkers to debutants, enslaved peoples to Europeans, Cajuns, Africans and Creoles to what is often referred to as the “northernmost Caribbean city.”
What is clear from Eaton’s work is that New Orleans is a place where fashion, past and present, collide in a beautiful mix of color, function and creativity. The author includes both vivid images and first person interviews with industry leaders in New Orleans today to provide the foundation for her observations.
Befitting a book on style, the design and layout of New Orleans Style appears as thoughtfully curated as the material and voice displayed on its pages. Part travel guide, part history text, part fashion magazine, this book can be enjoyed repeatedly by simply by flipping through the pages or with a more in-depth read.
Check out New Orleans Style and hear from with Andi live this weekend at the New Orleans Book Festival. Saturday, November 15 at the Big Lake in City Park.