BR designers ready for competition on runway

Baton Rouge will be well represented in two upcoming New Orleans fashion events — NOLA Fashion Week, March 14-22, and Fashion Week New Orleans (FWNOLA), March 18-23.

Designer and LSU assistant professor Lisa McRoberts is participating in both high-profile events, representing the Louisiana Alligator Advisory Council and showcasing her creations featuring dyed alligator skin. Also taking part in both NOLA Fashion Week and FWNOLA is LSU Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising graduate Nikki Manuel. The Baton Rouge-based designer will be showing fall and winter looks from her American Prep Clothing Co., and is one of 10 designers chosen to compete in FWNOLA’s Top Design Competition. Fellow LSU graduate Nichole Steuart is also competing as a Top Designer.

While the two fashion events differ in focus, the women behind them are united in their passion for bringing New Orleans to the forefront of the design world. Both agree it’s not just about New York and Los Angeles anymore.

“In New York everyone might be wearing black, but here in New Orleans we march to our own beat,” says Fashion Week New Orleans organizer Tracee Dundas, an apparel designer and costumer/designer for the film industry. “You’ll see everything from soft, traditional southern touches Uptown to more flamboyant, spicy fashions in the Marigny. We are definitely not cookie cutter.”

Fashion Week New Orleans’ more than 50 runway shows take place over three days at the Board of Trade Building and, with the exception of a VIP Patron Party, the shows and other events are open to the public.

Fashion Week New Orleans opens its doors to fashionistas hoping to garner an early look at what they’ll see in their favorite boutiques later this year. Instead of passes for individual shows, it sells tickets to an entire evening, which encompass shows by not just Southern designers, but retail stores and local boutiques.

Tickets are $45 per evening, $30 for students, and include the chance to shop for unique accessory items like handbags and jewelry at an on-site boutique.

On Saturday, March 22, Fashion Week New Orleans will hold its inaugural Fashion Awards Gala at the Joy Theater, 1200 Canal St.

This event, which will include a fashion show from Saks Fifth Avenue, will honor individuals who have made a significant mark in the fashion industry, shining a spotlight on both fashion veterans who have helped shaped the Gulf coast fashion community as well as up-and-coming individuals.

By contrast, NOLA Fashion Week is an industry-oriented event that operates much likes its exclusive cousin in New York. The show locations range from the Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter to the Marigny Opera House.

Led by New Orleans designer Andi Eaton, whose creations are on display at the boutique Hazel & Florange on Chartres Street, thee week is presented by the NOLA Fashion Council.

“Our event is completely industry-focused. It is all about the designers — all of which are Southern-born or -based,” says Eaton.

“In our first season we didn’t even sell tickets to the public,” she says. “Now those that donate to the event are given one of a limited number of public access passes. As in New York, each pass is good for one show, one designer. This ensures that every designer has the exact right audience for their show.”

Just as in New York, the timing allows buyers to place their orders for designs in advance of the upcoming season. And while public tickets aren’t anywhere as elusive as they are for New York, they are still limited.

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Kimberley Singletary and Pam Bordelon contributed to this report.