Andi Eaton is the founder of Southern Design Week, the premier fashion event that takes place twice yearly in New Orleans. We spoke at Second Line Stages just after the conclusion of the Fall/Winter 2015 season. You can listen to our conversation in its entirety on The SceneCast at thescenecast.com.
Micah: Andi! Tell me about how this spring’s week of fashion kicked off.
Andi: We kicked off the week with a brunch celebration at Tivoli & Lee at the Hotel Modern. It was hosted by Flying Fox, which is a local New Orleans handbag line that designed the NFL-approved clear purses last year. The founder’s name is Tiffany Napper: her brand really exploded after that product came out. Now she’s moved into really beautiful leather bags. She did an opening presentation during the brunch and had some amazing folks there.There was some great food, a lot of Instagrams from bloggers going on. Just some really great folks getting to meet-and-greet with some of designers that were showing throughout the week.
M: Everything moved to Gravier Street Social next?
A: We had two shows there on Sunday night. The first was Megan Mitton, an emerging designer going to school in Alabama. She’s from Shreveport so she wanted to come home and show her senior collection. Her garments were absolutely beautiful and she is going to be a star. After Megan’s opening show, we had local songbird Robin Barnes perform. She just launched her own clothing line. It’s called Fit By You and it’s athletic wear. Robin created a line after having some pretty serious health issues about a year ago. She had Miss Louisiana as one of her models, some local on-air celebs as some of her models. It was a really fun, high energy close to that day.
M: Where were you at on Tuesday?
A: We were at the Transportation Revolution, which is the Ducati and Triumph Dealership. We really got excited about using that venue. Their showroom is just absolutely beautiful. The products they offer stand out. We had two designers that evening. We opened with an emerging designer named Destani Hoffman. She did some wildly cool avant garde dresses. A lot of black and white conceptual pieces that really went well with the motorcycle showroom. And then, the headliner of that night was Stevie Boi. He was actually in all week long and he kicked off the first big runway show.
M: He’s kind of a big deal.
A: Stevie Boi is a big deal. He’s actually from Augusta, Georgia. He’s a Southern boy at heart. When he was sixteen, he was making custom sunglasses and he had a pair picked up by Italian Vogue. Not only did they run a photograph with the glasses, they ran them on the cover of the magazine. So he went from being a kid in Augusta, Georgia to being hired immediately by Lady Gaga to become one of her costume designers. He has been doing a lot of styling work for Madonna. He just styled the cover for Cosmopolitan featuring Madonna. So he’s just had some really, really big successes. Stevie is a very hard worker. He’s entrepreneurial, super smart and really down to Earth. He’s just a lovely gentleman doing really cool stuff.
M: What happened on Wednesday, March 18?
A: Wednesday was presented by Mignon Faget, who’s a local jewelry superstar. Mignon has stores all around Louisiana and does beautiful work herself. Mignon wanted to sponsor a night that was about local and up-and-coming artisans. So, Wednesday night was a mash up of sorts. There was a market, which featured three local makers: Beneath the Bark, Edge Studios and Hunt Collective. All are local jewelry or apparel designers. So those three presented their work in a market format. You could come in and shop, try things on, meet the designers and have some cocktails. with those folks and really just kind of have an experience of those brands.
Next was a the collection presentation by Krystal Frame. Her line is called K Frame. She’s been around Southern Design Week for quite a few years. She’s just a little superstar. She’s twenty-one years old and is really about to make it really big. She presented her collection and then the night closed with music from Ships of Fools, which is a collective of musicians from Baton Rouge.
M: Thursday’s up next. March 19th. Where were you?
A: We were at the Mallory Page Studio, which is Mallory Page Rodrigue’s gallery on Julia Street. Mallory’s a painter who does absolutely beautiful work, and she launched a book called The Alchemy Never Starts or Stops. It’s a collection of her paintings and writings, a beautiful coffee table book. The night closed with the collection presentation of Courtney Marse, who does engineered prints. So she’s got an MFA in textile design from LSU and she takes photographs or illustrations and deconstructs them, creates her own prints and then creates garments using those prints. Really cool stuff. This is her second collection and she’s hit the ground running, focusing on specific styles so that she can rotate in new prints every season.
M: And wrapped up the week on Friday, March 20th at the Joy Theater.
A: There were six designers that showed on Friday, paired with three local DJs. The energy was high and there was dancing in between each collection presentation. It opened with C-Major by Anne Cassidy and then went to the incubator group from a company called the Wild Life Reserve, which is run by Tabitha Bethune. Tabitha has four designers that she’s working with in the incubator program right now and those four designers all showed their collections in that show on Friday night. Those lines are Ottilie Broadmann by Elsa Broadmann. She does women’s wear that’s super sophisticated. NOLA Grown, which is a t-shirt line that Tabitha’s consulting with through the incubator program. And then, there’s a line called Lady Ann which is specifically absolutely gorgeous garments specifically designed for women that are taller. She started with one product, which was leggings, and now she’s moved to denim, skirts, dresses and all sorts of beautiful things for taller gals. The fourth line is called Onyii & Co. What she’s done is taken indigenous textiles and created really cool women’s contemporary wear using more indigenous, tribal type textiles. Those four showed their collection together in the incubator group and then Tabitha’s line the Wild Life Reserve closed the night.
M: What’s next for Southern Design Week?
A: This summer, we’ve got a teen fashion camp with the Contemporary Art Center. I’ll be the lead instructor but I’ll be having all sorts of guest educators coming in. The students are all fifteen to seventeen year old high school students that are electing this program because they have an interest in potentially going into either fashion design or styling or fashion production when they go to college. So that’ll be a lot of fun. We’re going to be doing some history of fashion with them and then also fashion production. They’re going to put on their own show. We’re going to do fashion photoshoots. We’re going to take them and do an editorial shoot, get them to work that shoot and see where how that whole process works.