Text and photos by Brooke Larsen
The people who make up the New Orleans fashion industry have to be some of the nicest on Earth. I’ve seen examples of this many times before, and it was clear to me once more at Vernon Clothing
’s Happy Hour on Thursday night. As I entered the store I was unsure what to expect because I had never been to such an event before. Vernon’s Happy Hour showcases the work of local designers while also serving drinks and hours d’ouvres. Food and
fashion under one roof? Yes, please! I was excited but still a little apprehensive. Surely this event was way too cool for me! However, any insecurities I had were soon dashed when I stepped inside.
The first thing I noticed is how lovely the store itself is. I had never entered Vernon before, but as soon as I did I wanted to learn everything I could about the Magazine Street boutique. This is my kinda store, y’all. There are early James Bond movie posters hanging on the walls, a display of ties and bowties (just because I’m a lady doesn’t mean I don’t adore men’s fashion), and vintage cameras and typewriters as décor. I quickly met Laura Keith, Manager and Creative Director at Vernon, who was glad to dish about the store. She was very friendly, chatting with me like an old friend, and told me that the store’s name comes from the name of founder and owner Chris Galliano’s late grandfather. A photo of Vernon himself hangs in the back of the store presiding over it from beyond. Vernon is a store all about promoting all kinds of fashion -especially if it comes from the South – while making the buyer feel at home while shopping. Vernon carries both local and national designers, and Laura herself is in the process of designing Vernon’s own line of clothing. When she told me that the store has only been open for less than a year I was shocked. It’s hard to believe they’ve already accomplished so much!
The Happy Hour that I attended was Vernon’s first to feature designers whose work they do not carry (at least not yet). Stay by Mar
is a jewelry line designed by Marianne Rodriguez right here in New Orleans. When I saw her work I was quite impressed and (as a girly girl) giddy. Not only is her jewelry gorgeous, but it’s practical as well. I’m not usually fond of bracelets because they can be difficult to close, but her’s had magnet closures! Sold! I didn’t think it was possible for me to be more obsessed after that, but then I met Mar herself and she described the design process to me. Mar designs the beads, they are handmade in Kenya, shipped here, and she assembles the jewelry herself. She described it as being a “group effort.” Mar was also selling some clutches, which she told me were made by hand by women who have AIDS in Kenya. I was impressed by her global approach and that she was employing women in need.
Velvet pants. Floral pants. Pant suits! These are a few of the things that made me excited as I glanced through the Iacono collection on display at Vernon. I wanted it all. Iacono is designed by Lisa Iacono and manufactured on the Westbank (making a case for it to be “Bestbank” perhaps!?). I quickly found out Lisa’s story – a designer who worked in New York for years, she only moved to New Orleans last May and began her own line shortly after. Realizing that it wasn’t easy to manufacture clothing here in the city, she partnered with Tam Huynh, who had worked in manufacturing and management for years in New Orleans, and created NOLA Sewn. At first NOLA Sewn
was located in a garage and created Lisa’s line of clothing; now they have around 20 clients and their own space and offices. “All this after only a year?!” I exclaimed. Lisa herself was very humble and seemed quite thrilled and shocked herself that she’s had so much success already. Is there a single fashion designer who hasn’t had their dreams realized in New Orleans? I have yet to meet someone who isn’t a success story.
Vernon’s Happy Hour
takes place weekly and they always provide drinks, food, and shoe shining courtesy of Patina Parlor, Not only was my experience aesthetically satisfying, but I got to meet incredibly creative people who are trying to make a difference by helping out those around them. It was certainly a rewarding experience. I will definitely be at Vernon’s next Happy Hour, this time with some money in my wallet. Join me!
Check out more photos on the Slow Southern Style Facebook page.
Slow Southern Style was compensated for this post.
Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style