The Looks of New Orleans

00:00 April 20, 2011
By: Kristal Blue
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[Where Y'At Staff/Provided Photo]

When discussing fashion, writers and enthusiasts usually turn to the runways to discover or follow the latest trends spanning the globe. We tend to look to those "established" in the industry to determine what is going to be the new style for the season... or even just the night. Unfortunately, more often than not, these well manicured designs simply don't transition to every day wear. (Case in point: the Spring 2009 line from Hussein Chalayan, a Lady Gaga Favorite who is known for his shocking designs and improbable clothing.) Although we admire the creativity and completed project of these designers, how can we apply the concepts of these looks to our own life? Of course, having an entire team of hair and makeup can't hurt, but if you take away all that - including the incredibly cued music and the perfectly positioned lighting all you have is but a fraction of the original masterpiece. So, we're forced to pick and choose pieces, styles, and inspiration and add them to our current collection. That fact alone leads to even more amazing discoveries and ensembles drenched with individuality and personal flair.

So, in order to capture this bonefide fashion, I decided to take to the streets of New Orleans to see what styles have been catching on around town! On a mission and armed with a camera, I hit the streets for a few weeks in search of a completely unfiltered, un-styled look at the character of actual New Orleanians to get a glimpse our own personal take on the fashion industry.

My one concern: the heat! In a town centered around continual forms of outdoor entertainment, New Orleans has been known to throw a few curve-balls in the weather department. When its hot, wardrobes become less detailed and more functional. Combine that with large-scale festivals such as Jazz Fest, where festival-goers spend countless hours in the heat and humidity, often trotting through the mud and the grass, looking put-together has become more and more of a challenge. Not to mention, it is proven incredibly difficult to look great when you're sweating head-to-toe no matter how fabulous your intentions are. So, we - like most creatures - have given up the futile war to overcome the heat and humidity, and have simply learned to adapt. Cashmere, silk, and tweed get exchanged for cotton, poly-blends, and the ever-so-glamorous water wicking microfibers (that work incredibly well might I add).

Although the battle with the heat may be lost, the war of fashion is never over. With an abundance of breezy fabrics, cropped hemlines, and beautifully simplistic patterns, these locals definitely hit the mark! For men, the jeans and shorts seemed to be given cuffs of varying lengths, which added a little extra personality to the sidewalks. To my delight, many even carried over the ever-popular brightly colored flannel shirts from the previous season. Although flannel is a material traditionally reserved for the winter, the break from the norm is a pleasant surprise. As for the ladies, dresses and skirts made of airy fabrics were in full force. These select women get A+ on their fashion reports for looking effortlessly chic and classy, all while maintaining their individuality. Despite the 85 degree weather, each one looked to be comforted and cool as they were strolling down the streets of New Orleans. The prevalent hipster-chic trend for both ladies and gents was topped off with light colored linen fedoras, classic aviators, and Laggerfeld inspired Wayfarers, which all remained fashionable, yet functional. Shoes? Well, as you can see, the shoes varied as much as the personalities they comforted. From boots to sneakers and flats, the people of New Orleans seem to grab whatever pair suits their mood, properly displaying the eccentricity of our beloved hometown.

Although this stylish street-sweeping phenominom has only taken off in a select cities around the world, this notion of street style is nothing new. Yves St. Laurent was the first to really spearhead this trend in 1960 when he released his "Beat Collection", which was a tribute to the beatnik culture in France at that time. This was a bold move, given societies distaste for those partaking in such influence and subsequently resulted in his immediate removal as chief designer for Dior. Unbeknown to the executives at Dior, this collection would not only be the beginning of an extremely lucrative career for St. Laurent, but also shift the perspective of the industry from the designer's ideas to the consumer's influence. For once, the people set the stage. In modern day, the previously ill-regarded influence has taken on more of a cheerful vibe of the youth displaying their creativity by using their clothing.

I commend these people of New Orleans for daring to be different, but always remaining well above the quota of class. Keep up with your rompers, your glasses, and your ever unique ways. We couldn't be New Orleans without you.

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