Monthly Archives: May 2012

Guest Post: Slow Travel

I’ve never traveled by train before, so when Amy Powe offered to write this post about her experience travelling from New Orleans to Chicago, I was excited to live vicariously through her.- Christy

Text by Amy Powe

As the population of those who embrace slow food,  slow design (local and sustainable!), and slow money (yes it’s a thing), continues to grow it’s hard not to be curious about what’s next.  In The South we have a reputation of never been in too big of a hurry about anything but, are we ready for slow travel?

Recently, I traveled with my family of four to Chicago aboard the infamous City of New Orleans.  The train station is much closer to us than the airport.  Parking, easy, surface lot, five dollars a day. The scene at the train station is interesting. There is an eclectic and eccentric crowd of all ages, shapes and sizes in all manner of dress.  Honestly when is not the case in New Orleans?

As there are no security checks other than a sign that reads “We’re All In This Together” with interior shot of the train, there is no need to arrive any earlier than 45 minutes prior to departure.  We have an easy departure time of 1:45 in the afternoon. First class (aka sleeper car ticket holders) board first. You are allowed two bags and can bring on liquids and food.  My daughter and I share a deluxe sleeper car complete with (albeit small) sink, toilet and shower.  We made our travel plans last minute, so there was not a sleeper car available for my husband and son, so they bunk in a sleeper car roomette.  The roomette does not have nearly the amount of room as the deluxe model, or a private bath.

Inside our sleeper cars, we are greeted by our train hostess Kenya.  She provides us with bottled water and 4 pillows.  She explains that once the conductor makes his announcement we are free to move about the cabin.   She also takes our dinner reservation, asks what time we would like beds turned down and what time we would like a wake-up call.
The sight seeing car has lots of seating and tables to keep travelers busy on their journey.   There is much card playing, reading, crossword puzzle and suduko action.  I never did get a clear answer as to whether or not wi-fi is available but, there didn’t seem to be much of a demand from my fellow passengers.  There is a bar and snack bar downstairs.  I would skip the snack bar next time and pack sandwiches from La Boulangerie before leaving town.  The hot items are “cooked” via microwave and that is scary for me because I don’t own one and it definitely isn’t in the theme of slow!  However, the Coronas were exactly right and there was a fair variety of beers and wine.  Fast forward to dinner.  The dinner menu was pretty bleak however, the local special was barbeque ribs.  Actual non-microwaved food.  My husband and kids loved it.  I assembled a salad and vegetables from the menu.  The retro of it all made for a very charming  atmosphere.  Once back in the room, the beds were made and it reminded of bit of a micro version of my Cabra dorm room at Loyola.  The curtains were drawn back as the sun slowly disappeared from the sky.  It was a lovely thing to have nothing to do than watch the sunset.

Sleeping on the train is very doable, but if you are a light sleeper you may want to medicate or take ear plugs.  The train does continue to make stops during the night and the horn continues to blow as it approaches crossings.  But, if you’re like my daughter you will sleep through the night and then some.

A basic breakfast is served morning before our 9 am arrival in Chicago.  We arrive a few minutes ahead of schedule and make our way off the train and onto the platform. Chicago’s train station is much more advanced than the New Orleans train station.  A cart picks us up, and wisks the four of us and luggage with urgency through the crowd at the station.  The driver makes a stop at the rental car office (a brief pause for paperwork) and promptly drops us off to our rental car.  Back to the fast lane.  

photo credits:

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Unearth NOLA With Brandi Couvillon From Waregarden Studio

Text and collage by Amber Guidry

Art can sometimes inspire motivation, excitement, even happiness in my personal life.  Sometimes it makes me wonder…who gave the three year old a paintbrush?? Either way my mind can get lost imagining how the creation of each piece unfolds. Usually it intrigues me to question the journey that inspires each artist “to create”.

The journey of Waregarden Studio’s Brandi Couvillion has led her to dig tunnels that could possibly cave in around her, to un-nest a flying New Orleanian roach colony, to scale the mountains of Peru in hopes of uncovering a remnant from the past. Ok so maybe not Peru but who’s to say its not on her bucket list of exploratory sites.

In Brandi’s own words, “Wrenching up history from the ground and reassembling it into something expressing the decaying grandeur and melancholy of New Orleans is what I strive for…” Read on below for the personal inspiring journey of the artist and owner of Waregarden Studio.

The mixed media artwork and jewelry lines of New Orleans local, Brandi Couvillion is currently available at various galleries and museums, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, as well as the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s Southern Craft and Design later this month.

“My adventure of delving into the past, into the privies/outhouses of our ancestors, technically begins with a 5-6 foot metal probe, testing the ground below to determine what may lie there. I often can’t help myself but to just start digging the hard, impacted earth recklessly with the most fervent passion.  It is one of the only times when I feel at one with the universe and in deep meditation.

Obviously, the closer to the historic neighborhoods of New Orleans, the more likely you are to find objects of desire. Being practically on the Saulet Plantation grounds, I thought I might have some good fortune for my interests, which are vast. In my own expansive backyard (in a historic district) we probed the majority of it. My hard-core diggers (who have done it for 40+ years) didn’t think we’d find anything of the pre-Civil War. They are mostly interested in old bottles, which I love, but I find excitement in old ceramic pipes, hand painted ceramic marbles, porcelain doll parts – really anything that will tell a tale of that land and its previous inhabitants.

We had come across three layers of courtyards in digging the pond – old, soft red brick, then flagstone and finally new brick from all over the country. I continued to dig a few feet down and started pulling up more flagstone (which had initials carved into it – how romantic!) and, of course, brick.  Soon, I had burrowed a tunnel about a yard wide and several yards long, maybe about 3 feet down. We called it the tiger trap because it was right by the shed and quite a dangerous location with only my handmade bamboo covering on top of the initial hole.  Soon, the pond was threatening to collapse, so I started burrowing in the other direction.  Unfortunately, there are some frightening things down there – being trapped in a hole that could collapse as you freak out from the huge cockroach nest you just disturbed!

During my digging, I eventually fell into a time where I was literally fingering through every handful of dirt – every single piece of the past would be felt.  Most of the time people sift through this, but it was more personal to me.  I wanted to see every hand cut nail tossed out, each piece of decorative ceramic tile that once adorned the fireplaces, indications of when they restored the plaster (large lumps poured into the earth as if it was a mold), or when they removed the coved ceilings in certain rooms.  

In the harshest of summer weeks, I would take a break from digging and it was then that I noticed the beautiful fern that grew in the moist, cooler burrow. I’ve saved some of it to dry and I use it now on my new line, Ephemera, which embosses antique laces from items worn to shreds and botanicals from special places in my life and in the world. The most unusual thing I found in my own backyard was a bone toothbrush (without bristles, of course) that has “France” engraved on it!  

But my all time biggest find, in my nostalgic mind, was what ultimately turned out to be 100 Pre and Victorian shoes/boots.  They were mostly shoe soles, as the leather is quickly eaten away, but I still found the harder leather soles and wooden heels intact. I did, however, find a few baby “boots” with the amazing Victorian design and buttons up the side. Among this, I’ve found the most elegant porcelain plates/basins, etc., a New Orleans luxury tax token, tiny porcelain tea sets and numerous doll parts, to only name a few. The privies were very caustic when they were active, some 100-200 years ago, so things broken down very quickly, but these musty, insect ridden shoe soles are probably some of the most meaningful to me.  Was it a cobbler who just threw the shoes he couldn’t repair in the back?  How have some of them remained intact? I actively use them in my Assemblages, as to me the Soles represent the Souls before us…

I am ecstatic to be unveiling a brand new jewelry line using the porcelain shards – Privy’s Porcelain – which incorporates the most elegant 1800’s patterns into my designs from some of the most stunning china manufacturing companies. Interestingly, a large amount seem to be traced back to England. And I have found some of the same patterns in completely different neighborhoods!

It is compelling to look at the translucency, design detail and accuracy of these pieces – scenes of the most exotic countrysides filled with animals and even people in 1800’s dress adorn these precious pieces of the past.

I believe The Past is Present….in every way you can interpret it… I am tremendously excited to be able to share these experiences with everyone.”

Brandi Couvillion
The Waregarden Studio
1221 Annunciation St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 717-1433

Be sure to sign up for Brandi’s blog updates and gallery showings on her website at

Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

Southern Fashion Bloggers and Glenn Michael Salon

Sometimes we all just need an excuse to hang out with our lady friends and indulge our girly side. A handful of the Southern Fashion Bloggers got together recently and hung out at Glenn Michael Salon to catch up on what everyone’s doing, have some fun, and indulge in some mini hair and makeup classes. Be sure to read the full recap, including makeup tips and notes from our blow out 101 class on the Southern Fashion Bloggers site. 
Mr. Glenn Michael teaching us how to talk to our stylists to get the perfect hair style.

What I Wore: vintage Hunter Club, Zara skirt, wedges all from Buffalo Exchange belt from Armoire

Best blow out I’ve ever had! And I know how to recreate it at home.
Ridiculously cute Irregular Choice shoes in the boutique section
My favorite ladies, Dorothy Young and Leslie Almeida
Outfit details from Instagram. Follow me slowsouthernstyle
To see more pictures from the day check out the Southern Fashion Bloggers Facebook page.
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What I Wore: Sippin’ In Seersucker

Dress- Imagine Scarf- Swap Boutique
Earrings- Armoire
Bangle bracelet- c/o In Pink
Clutch Banana Republic, Belt American Apparel, Heels DKNY Collection all via Buffalo Exchange

My husband- he put together his outfit himself, no help from me!

Sippin’ In Seersucker was this past Friday, and I couldn’t have had more fun. If you’ve never been, read all about it  on  my weekly Uptown Messenger column.  Seersucker is the ubiquitous summer fabric of the South, and it was a treat witnessing so many people decked out in puckered stripes.  Aside from the mint juleps, sazeracs, and delicious food from local restaurants, the people watching was definitely the highlight of the evening.

Poor judgement on my part meant that I didn’t take as many photos as I should have. Juggling a clutch, a drink, and food while walking around was a challenge for sure. However I did manage to snap a few shots- to see some photos of friends that went visit the Slow Southern Style Facebook page.

It’s the details that help stand out from the standards

Another Instagram shot- shrimp (tattoo) and seersucker- follow me  I’m slowsouthernstyle. Duh.

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Designer Interview: Lia Cinquegrano of Thomas IV

Text by Meghan Wright

I had the fantastic pleasure of interviewing Lia Cinquegrano, the creator and designer of handbag line Thomas IV. The Florida native (now in Brooklyn) has an interesting design aesthetic and makes wonderful use of different fabrics, textures, and patterns.

Photo c/o Thomas IV
 – Where did you get the name “Thomas IV?”

I usurped the family first name. My brother is Thomas Cinquegrano III, so I stole Thomas IV and passed it down to my handbag line

– I love your mixture of bold prints, colors and fabrics. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes for the idea of using inherently colorful materials with little to no hardware. I use fabrics from Guatemala and India as well as recognizable graphic patterns like houndstooth. I like for all of the bags to be very relaxed, casual and quirky. They are a true reflection of my personality and represent how I feel about fashion. I do not take fashion seriously. I think all design should be clever and have a sense of humor. I am attracted to colors and patterns and mixed media. I wanted the bags to feel like they have a personality of their own and make a statement.

Photo c/o Thomas IV

– Why do you think it is more beneficial to you as a designer and to your product to have all of your pieces made locally? 
As a small and young designer who studied fashion design, I believe using the industry available in my home-city is super important.  I want to have a relationship with the people executing my designs. I want to be able to oversee the process any day of the week. I want to explain my ideas face to face with the technicians and I want to support my local economy and the industry that is available for people like me. I need to use factories that support small designers and are willing to forfeit high minimums. Using these factories benefits me because I am gaining a real hands-on education which in turn helps with my design process. When I can see how something is made and understand the possibilities of manufacturing, I can better design a product.

– Where did you get your start, and why did you choose to design bags? 

I studied fashion design at Rhode Island School of Design. I graduated in 2005 and moved to NYC in 2006. When I moved here I began working for womenswear designer Nanette Lepore designing clothes. I still work for her designing clothing, shoes and handbags. She manufactures 80% of her garments within a 5-block radius of her west 35th st. design studio. I used to walk to each factory to oversee the production of her sample garments. I gained an appreciation for the garment industry in New York which is why I am happy to use local manufacturers as well.

About 2 years ago I was fortunate enough to have access to a giant studio space in a former Catholic elementary school in Brooklyn.  Each classroom was rented out to artists, mostly RISD grads, who used the space as studios. When I first rented my studio I was not sure what I wanted to make. In addition to working for Nanette, I also had side projects designing costumes for music videos and theater, but having the studio space meant I had to find my own outlet. I had no boss or director or collaborator. I wanted to flush out my own design ideas so I started by patching together old printed leather jackets and turning them into bags. Then I started making silhouettes from scratch trying to come up w/ innovative ways to incorporate the functional elements of a handbag into the design with out using a lot of metal. For example, a bag must have a handle or a strap, it has to close and those elements have to be working together in a harmonious way so I tried to really think about signature ways to attach a strap or make an interesting closure. For Spring 2011 I made my first collection which consisted of 3 styles. I took photos of the samples at my brother’s loft and started sending my look book out to buyers. Barneys Co-op and Steven Alan picked up the line. I have now just designed my 4th collection for Fall 2012.
Photo c/o Thomas IV

– Do you have any advice for anyone who aspires to be a designer or work in the fashion industry?
I think it is important to honestly represent yourself. If you design something that you think is great and it is accurate representation of yourself and your personality than you have a recipe for success. I think it is important to recognize design gaps in the industry and fill them naturally with your ideas. I am still learning so much myself. I think quality control is extremely important as well as research within design and technical execution. I think it is important to spend time developing your ideas and testing them out before releasing them.

All photos are from Thomas IV’s Fall 2012 collection. 
Lia’s blog: Phuck Fashion
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What I Wore: Old Faithfuls and Extra Minutes

I have a confession to make. I didn’t start Slow Southern Style to plaster my mug all over the internet. There are enough lovely gals out there who do a much better job of it than I do. Not to mention there are enough “skinny white girl bloggers” documenting their personal style. Oh wait, I’m not skinny. Anyway, schedules synced up again and I coerced my husband to take some quick pictures before I jetted off to work.

Considering I’m on my feet for 8 hours a day, dressing for comfort is a necessity. While I’d love to wear heels more frequently, it ‘aint happening. When the weather is nice I bike the 2.5 miles to work, so I have to make sure I’m wearing something quasi practical for my commute.

I’ve got my spring uniform down pat. Do you? Several months ago I decided a button down/skirt combo would be my warm weather staples. Now I just need to stock up, since I keep rotating the same old faithfuls every week. This pink skirt has made several appearances on Slow Southern Style, most recently in the French Quarter and at Saks Fifth Avenue. You might call it wardrobe remixing, I call it wearing the hell out of something. One thing I’ve realized is that I always go back to this basic skirt shape. Give me something that sits on the waist, flares out to disguise my lack of assets, and have it stop slightly above or below the knee and I’m sold.
Not gonna lie, I own more Native American jewelry than should be legally allowed. Most of it was procured in Arizona, but I’ve managed to pick some up in Louisiana as well. If you are looking to add to your own collection, I’d suggest checking out Louisiana’s own Choctaw Silverworks.

Polka dot chambray shirt- Lands’ End Canvas

Everything else- Buffalo Exchange, minus one bracelet gift from hubby

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Friend – Menswear on Magazine Street

Text and images by Meghan Wright
A great menswear store is hard to come by, not impossible, just not as common as womenswear boutiques. Friend opened up on Magazine St. back in February and they are going strong. 
 The style is casual and modern, with brands like Shades of Grey, Saturdays Surf NYC,  Reyn Spooner, and Vanishing Elephant. They also have shoes from Rivieras, sunglasses by Super, and a great selection of men’s fragrances from Eau d’Italie. 
The look of the store is very clean and classic. The plants, antler keychains, and vintage decor set amidst the light blue walls and wooden shelves give the shop a rustic edge. Support a local business, and do yourself a favor by checking it out.
2115 Magazine Street
Open every except Tuesday from 11am – 6pm
 (504) 218-4214
Also, check them out on Facebook
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What I Wore: Casual Cool

It’s almost summer, and having an arsenal of comfortable clothes is key to getting through festival season and making it to Fall. I usually live in tank tops, but this summer I’m switching to lightweight button downs to keep the sun off my arms, and stay casual and cool. Well, I’m not cool by any stretch, but I do like to wear clothes that breathe. I shared some tips on my weekly Uptown Messenger article for dressing for festivals, but the same tips apply all season long. 

Plaid blouse and rhinestone necklace via Buffalo Exchange- Shorts c/o MiH Jeans- Crested loafers via Funky Monkey

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Kids Fashion Camp at the Ogden Museum

One of my fondest memories growing up was going to summer camp. I played flute from 4th grade through college, and had considered pursuing it professionally, but majoring in English won. Summers spent at band camp were the best, and doing drill downs in a gym devoid of air conditioning in the dead of August was strangely enjoyable. I lived for band, and I was damned good at it. I heartily believe kids need a creative outlet, no matter what the medium is.

photo c/o Sue Strachan

For two weeks in July, the Ogden Museum is hosting its 2nd Fashion Camp for teenagers ages 13-16. One of last year’s participants, Grayson Gold, presented his work at Fashion Week New Orleans in March and also sent a model down the runway at the Ogden’s Haute and Handmade this past December. Campers will learn fashion illustration, practice hand and machine stitching, discover secrets of the trade, and receive coaching from Veronica Cho, a former Seventh Avenue designer and Parsons School of Design graduate. The camp will wrap with a fashion show, highlighting the teen’s hard work.

Fashion Camp at the O!
July 9, 2012 – July 20, 2012
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
For ages 13 to 16
$250 museum members; $275 non-members

For more info or to register contact Ellen Balkin at:

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A Frugal Freret Street Fashion Show

Come join me for a night of fashion on Freret Street this coming Sunday as part of Yelp’s Passport to Freret Street promotion. I’ll be judging a special frugal fashion challenge alongside Missy Wilkinson from the Gambit Weekly. Contestants will be asked to purchase up to $25 worth of clothing from Bloomin’ Deals Thrift Store, which supports the Junior League. The theme is cruise wear and anything from “castaway chic” to “pool side fabulous” goes.

The best Gilligan or Skipper impersonator will receive two tickets to Tales of The Cocktail and the after party. For more information, including rules of the contest, visit the Yelp event listing, get your best outfit together, and may the best thrifter win!

What: Passport to Freret Street: Thrifty Fashion Show/Contest
When: Sunday, May 13th 9:00 pm
Where: La Nuit Comedy Theater, 5039 Freret Street
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