Category Archives: frenchman street

All on a Mardi Gras Day

 

Mardi Gras Day is always a fabulously magical experience, and this year was extra special. My brother and his boyfriend were in town for carnival for the first time since 2009, so we went all out. It was also our tenant’s first Mardi Gras as a New Orleans resident, so I felt obligated to help her navigate the crazy. We ended up doing four nights of Uptown parades, hosted a pre-Bacchus party at our house replete with Chris’ Get Your Life Right Gumbo, cornbread and Jello shots (lololol), caught the Red Beans Parade on Lundi Gras, and left the house at 8 a.m. on Fat Tuesday to wander the French Quarter and Marigny.

Highlights from Tuesday include getting a choice downtown parking spot, seeing Solange walk past us as if she was gliding on a glitter cloud, running into a ton of friends, seeing a grown man naked on Frenchmen St. (not a highlight, but truly memorable), and getting five people home all in one piece. No one got lost, shit faced, or misplaced their pants. Mardi Gras Magic.

Okay, on to the costume details.

Crowning glory: I bought my hat back in 2011 but never figured out what to do with it. The colors are so vivid I knew the outfit needed to stand up to the topper. I made Thomas’ hat from scratch to complement mine. His hat looks fancy but it was relatively easy to make. All I needed was a buckram hat base (I used a cadet style), metallic blue fabric to cover the base with, a piece of foam board, and a metric ton of feathers and Mod Podge.

The shoes: I usually don’t get too hung up on my shoes since 1. comfort is paramount and 2. no one is going to notice them. Thomas, however, opts for matching shoes. I had a pair of lace-up boots that lost their luster but were still comfortable, so I spray painted them blue and glittered them up. The glitter/Mod Podge layer started to break at the stress points, but Thomas’ loafers managed to hold up.

His costume: My cardinal rule is to never repeat a costume on Mardi Gras Day. This year, we broke that rule by reusing his pants from last year’s getup. They were too perfect not to and it saved time and money. I added blue fringe and gold sequins to the back pockets to incorporate in the blue from the shirt. He bought the metallic blue shirt on Amazon and I found the vintage beaded belt at The New Orleans Costume Center. I added gold stretch fabric to the back so it would fit him properly. I like the cummerbund effect this had and it added interest and variety to what is otherwise just a t-shirt and tuxedo pants.

My costume: I bought the gold sequined bra from Trashy Diva, the crop top from Swap Boutique and the gold shorts from ASOS. Those shorts, by the way, were hideous when I first got them. They looked like glorified boxer shorts and did nothing for my legs. I took them in, added ruching and blue fringe on the sides and created a peplum with red and orange trim to hide the cheap looking elastic waistband. I originally wanted a gold ballgown skirt similar to the hot pink one I wore for our flamingo costumes back in 2012. I went with shorts because I like showing my legs and the shorts were inexpensive. The only ballgown skirts I found either looked cheap or cost more than I wanted to spend. Plus, I didn’t feel like making a skirt from scratch.

How much our costumes cost:

Total cost this year: about $320

Trim, etc…: about $170 for all the trim, feathers, his hat form, foam board and an X-acto knife

My costume: $33 bra, $20 shirt, $15 shorts

His costume: Shirt: $25, Evil eye applique: $35, belt $20

Where we saved money: I already owned my hat, the red fishnet stockings, the blonde wig and my necklace. We already had both pairs of shoes and his pants. I have a stockpile of thread, needles, and pins,  so I didn’t need to purchase sewing supplies. I also had some leftover sequins and gold appliques from last year, so I just used those. I tend to overbuy trim in case a piece needs to be repaired. I like to repurpose pieces for other costume events; I also loan costumes to friends on occasion, so it’s important to me to be able to reuse these things.

How we could have saved more money: Uh, it’s Mardi Gras. We go big or go home, and our asses never stay at home on Fat Tuesday. For me, it’s important to feel like I’m contributing to the splendid frenzy that it Fat Tuesday. See y’all on the parade route next year.

 

Mardi Gras 2016

spray painted shoesThomas FewerChristy LorioMardi Gras 2016Mardi Gras costumesWell that was fun.

Mardi Gras 2016 came and went. If you follow me on Instagram then you know I’m a very busy lady during carnival season. I marched with the Gris Gris Strut Marching Band again this year.  My friend Missy (flag corps) said it best: “This is like having a part-time job.” The band started practicing before Christmas, with the bulk of rehearsals in the weeks leading up to carnival. Then there are the parades. I marched in five of them this year, which was great fun but also physically and mentally draining. Walking at a snail’s pace across half the city while playing an instrument, coupled with the intense stimulus of thousands of eyeballs on you, takes its toll. Needless to say, it’s bittersweet that marching season has come to an end.

Oh yea, so y’all wanna talk about these costumes? This was the first time in three years that I didn’t have to balance Mardi Gras with school, which meant I had more time to get busy with the details. I think the official appliqué count was 28– all hand stitched by yours truly. And that’s not counting all of the sequin and feather trim work.  I started on our costumes a month ago, but as usual Lundi Gras night was spent at home with a needle and thread. Thomas was on shoe duty this year, and he did a great job dazzling up his pair of thrift store penny loafers.

After sifting through multiple costume boxes (we have enough to practically open our own costume store) to pull out my trust metallic gold body suit, I’m going to sit down after Ash Wednesday and put my old retail management skills to use. Each box is getting an inventory sheet, sorted by themes and color schemes. Our wigs (I lost count years ago) will get stored in their own separate box. A true #MardiGrasProblems situation.

Halloween

IMG_1230Christy Lorio

IMG_1234Halloween! It really is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather (sometimes) gets cooler, the leaves start to change (who am I kidding), the air turns crisp (except when it’s steamy as $%#@ outside), and okay screw it, no need to pretend; fall in southern Louisiana toys with my emotions every year. The temperature still creeps into the 80s some days, and figuring out what to wear is a crap shoot. In the morning I’m digging in the back of my closet for a sweater, and by noon I’m deeply regretting not wearing shorts.

Oh, what were we talking about? Oh yea, Halloween. I’m slowly starting to enjoy the holiday again. I have to admit Halloween lost its luster for me a few years ago for several reasons. I worked in a store that sells costumes for 8 years, which was great for my costume closet, not so much for my spirit. There’s nothing fun about trying to locate all six parts for “slutty bumblebee dress with tutu, gloves, headband, and stinger” while you’ve got a line piling up at the fitting room and last minute shoppers calling in desperation looking for “anything 1960s.” Another aspect of Halloween that bums me out is seeing so many damn costume-in-a-bags on the streets. I understand people are busy and sometimes need to piece together a costume on the fly, but as someone who takes great pride in coming up with original costume ideas, it does nothing for the atmosphere (yea, I’m serious) when half the people at the party show up wearing the same uninspired flimsy costumes. I guess mass produced costumes are better than no costume at all, but half the fun of Halloween is seeing the creative costumes that people come up with.

That said, last night was the funnest Halloween I’ve had in years. It rained off and on all evening, which helped with crowd control, which meant only the die-hard partiers were out. I saw some great costumes (lots of Beetlejuice, N.W.A, skeletons, Star Wars, some jellyfish), and the energy was upbeat despite the weather forecast. It was almost like people had a “we’re all in this together” mentality each time it started to pour.

We pieced together our costumes this year with thrift store finds and some online purchases. I found my Victorian-style blouse and a khaki skirt at a thrift store on the same trip. The pieces screamed British safari to me, so we decided to build our costumes around my outfit and the pith helmet that Thomas already owned. The medals on his jacket are leftovers from my high school marching band days. I found them in my mom’s attic recently and knew I would find a way to put them to good use. I made my clutch out of a piece of leftover buckram I had from an old Mardi Gras costume, scrap fabric from another project, and extra trim from this year’s costumes.

All on a Mardi Gras Day: Mardi Gras Costumes

It goes without saying that Mardi Gras is my favorite time of year. Some years are better than others (remember how cold and rainy it was last year?) but the 2015 carnival season was as an epic one; I marched in four parades with Gris Gris Strut‘s marching band and Fat Tuesday was downright magical. The costumes, the partying, and the energy all added up to a firm reminder why I love my hometown so much. Mardi Gras never gets old.
Oh yea, and our Mardi Gras costumes were rain clouds. I used car sunshades and foam board to create the base for the hat. It was so windy there were times our hats would blow right off our heads. Navigating crowds was also challenging. At one point I popped into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to grab two purple drinks (yes, that’s the actual name) but the crowd was so dense that I had to take my hat off and thrust it upwards to try to gain clearance over everyone’s heads. Fortunately I didn’t piss anyone off. In fact, it seemed that most of the bar patrons gave kudos to my decision to limit my own mobility for the sake of costuming. That’s the best part about Mardi Gras, especially in the French Quarter and Marigny. Most revelers respect everyone else’s costume game, even when cumbersome accessories get in the way and make the streets hard to navigate. It’s all part of the Mardi Gras magic and I’m so grateful that I get to partake in it year after year.
 Check out my Tumblr for more Mardi Gras photos.

Instagram Slam- Mardi Gras Edition

Can you believe Mardi Gras was only a week ago? Even though I’m still scrubbing glitter off my floors (and by still I mean haven’t started), it feels like a distant memory already. Regardless, I’ve got a few more photos to share before I put it to rest. And I lie- some of these made to my Instagram feed, others didn’t. I hope y’all enjoy them either way.

Kaci always kills it with her costumes. She made that Grecian goddess costume from scratch!

Dick in a box never.gets.old.ever.
Ran into this guy last year and he posed the same way this year. Mardi Gras kismet at its best.
Why yes, that is a Trojan horse running amok through the Marigny.
I love this picture of my husband- clearly he keeps himself entertained.
Form meets function- art bikes are always crowd pleasers, plus you can store booze and snacks in there.
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Made & Made by Tiia Maria

 I discovered Finland native Tiia Maria’s line of handmade hats Made & Made at the Frenchman Art Market just a few weeks ago and was instantly smitten with her perfect toppers. What drew me in was the quality and detail in her designs- teeny fascinators are adorned with kitty ears and a birdcage veil. Slightly cheeky and not too precious these are the perfect toppers to add a glamorous touch without being too over the top. Learn more about Made & Made on their Facebook page after finding out about the brand in the interview below.



Why hats? How did you get started as a milliner?

Up until a couple of years ago, I spent most of my time studying, writing and reading. I have a Masters in Adult Education, but I felt like the career path it was taking me on wasn’t creative enough. I also wanted to do something with my hands. I love the process of shaping felt hats. Millinery is like sculpting but only with felt and other materials. I also want hats to make a come back because it makes dressing much more interesting.
I’m interested in vintage clothing and hats are a big part of that. I admire old hats and I have been collecting vintage hats for many years. Two years ago I did a few millinery courses in Finland and after that I wanted to learn more.
Flora Turban Hat

You’re from Finland originally. How long have you been in New Orleans, and what sparked the move?

I moved here in December 2011 after falling in love with the city on an earlier visit. New Orleans is a very creative environment and new ideas and faces are welcome. Moving to New Orleans gave me a chance to do something completely different and really focus on my craft. I also enjoy the warm weather and sun!

Your hats have a decidedly vintage feel to them. How do you keep them feeling modern and wearable for everyday life vs. feeling like a costume?

My hats have a vintage feel because I use real vintage materials: laces from the 1920s, feathers from the 1940s, fur felt from the 1960s and much more. Even the wooden molds I shape the hats on are authentic hat blocks, many over 60 years old. I love using these antique materials because they are absolutely unique and very good quality too. There’s nothing quite like a piece of 1930s black veiling and you only get to use it once. Using these kinds of tools and materials makes each piece incredibly special.
I try to keep the trimming and decoration simple to avoid the costume look, the result is that each hat is modern and refined but shows its vintage roots. The materials – fur felt, silk, veiling, grosgrain ribbon – are quite beautiful, so rather than embellish each piece with lots of decoration, these special materials are given their own space. I make headpieces for special occasions but also have hats that are wearable every day. I want to keep my hats modern to show that you don’t need a vintage hairdo or classic outfit to wear a great hat.

Besides your site and the Frenchman Art Market, where are you selling your hats?

Visit www.madeandmade.com for the complete collection, and in New Orleans you can find Made & Made pieces at Bon Castor and Trashy Diva too.

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Frenchman Art Market: Nighttime Shopping For New Orleans

Hourglass Productions- purchase it online here

Made & Made- custom handmade millinery 

I love strolling through a good art market, discovering little handmade treasures from local artists. But most of them are daytime outdoor events, which means slathering on sunscreen and sweating it out during the summertime. And since I’m working weekends now, my work schedule doesn’t always align, and the tables are packed up long before I’m punching the clock. Frenchman Art Market founder Kate Gaar is helping fill the need for an alternative time slot every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 5:00pm-1:00am. The market is located in the midst of Frenchman Street, New Orleans’ venerable hot spot for good eats and live music when the sun goes down. Tucked into an empty lot across from D.B.A. and next to Spotted Cat, it’s easy to catch your favorite band, then stroll across the street with beer in hand to scope out another form of local talent-handmade crafts. There’s plenty of art, jewelry, re-purposed vintage clothing, housewares, even twinkling fleur-de-lis topiaries and a documentary film maker were out on my last visit.

John Dyer, a friend and co-organizer, explains how the Frenchman Art Market came to fruition.


“Basically this was a pop-up market that started during Jazz Fest weekends this year. Kate just has a passion for art and artists and has basically single handedly (excluding yours truly) put this together.  We are seeking a very diverse group of art vendors.  We don’t really want food/drink vendors and we definitely don’t (can’t have) musicians because it’s already on Frenchmen and there’s plenty of other places for that.

This is a venue strictly for diverse local artists and we want to gear it towards festivals/conventions that are in town. Meaning we want to have a strong base of artists that we can book according to what’s happening in the city that weekend.  As of now we are leased through January and hoping we can sign longer.  We have started a petition at the market and are trying to get as many locals to sign it in show of support to the city.”


Keep up with the Frenchman Street Art Market on their Facebook page. If you’re an artist interested in participating http://neworleans.craigslist.org/ats/3194148695.html

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