New Orleans Style, by New Orleans Fashion Week founder and designer Andi Eaton, is a compact little book exploring the historical influences and the unique culture of our city and how it manifests in today’s fashion.
The first six chapters trace the founding of the city to the Jazz Age with lots of historical details, touching on local customs and dress. It was evident a lot of effort went into compiling this information which is presented with archival photographs and illustrations. She then delves into Mardi Gras culture and couture and festival fashion, again with well researched historical detail. While interesting, most of this information is well-known to locals and will be more of a primer for out-of-town readers.
Further in the book Ms Eaton talks about how dressing for the climate guides choices in fabrics, styles, and design. She explores several neighborhoods (Uptown, Treme, Bayou St. John, Marigny and Bywater, etc.) and explains the predominant fashion style she feels each area embodies with accompanying photos of young women modeling locally designed clothes. History and neighborhood photos are sprinkled throughout, many photos by local favorite photographer Infrogmation via Wikimedia Commons. (I’ve been a fan/follower of his photos for years so this was probably my favorite part of the book!) Interviews with several new local designers including Jolie Bensen, Hattie Moll, and Suzanne Perron are peppered throughout. A nod is given to fashion icons such as Rubensteins, Yvonne LaFleur, and Haspel.
The book was a quick read and I enjoyed it but I wish there had been a little more exploration of real woman-on-the-street fashion. I felt particularly that the neighborhood sections could have been injected with additional personality by possibly talking with the actual residents of the areas. I think I was expecting something less industry focused so that opinion may not be quite fair. The book was well researched and the information crisply written and it is one I would recommend to anyone interested in New Orleans history and culture.