It’s Lundi Gras Y’all

Lundi Gras is like the Christmas Eve of Mardi Gras. In case you aren’t familiar, Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, the culmination of the carnival season where revelry in the streets is de rigueur until Lent begins at midnight.

While I didn’t hit up that many parades this year, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be celebrating tomorrow. Not in New Orleans? Follow me on Instagram and Twitter if you want to keep up with my costumed escapades while you’re sitting at your desk. Or, peruse the Mardi Gras archives, and check back after Ash Wednesday for more Fat Tuesday coverage. You can also read my piece about Southern Costume Company on NOLA Woman, and be sure to watch the latest Propaganda New Orleans episode below, where we head to Domenica to watch pastry chef Lisa White make her nearly infamous king cake, and Avenue Pub owner Polly Watts helps us pair whiskey with the sweet stuff.

 Happy Mardi Gras, see y’all in the French Quarter tomorrow!

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Winner of the NOLA Eats King Cake Tasting Tickets

By a purely random stroke of luck, the winner of two NOLA Eats king cake tasting tickets is Christina McKay! If you didn’t win, you can still receive $3 off your ticket price by using coupon code SSS. Click here to purchase your ticket.

Like the short video I made? I jumped on the Vine bandwagon- follow me at @ChristyLorio. If you haven’t heard about this new iPhone app, it’s like Instagram but with 6 second videos.

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Giveaway: NOLA Eats King Cake Tasting Party

My NO Prop wifey Leslie Almeida is at it again. Celebrating 5 years of sugary bliss, her annual king cake party is the largest public tasting in the New Orleans area. In fact, I’m just now coming down from last year’s sugar high. With over 20 king cakes, including a home baked category, you might want to start your Lenten fast a little early to prepare for the doughy gluttony that will ensue. My personal favorites from last year ranged from Haydel Bakery’s classic cake, Domenica’s “so good it’s not even fair” concoction of bananas, mascarpone, and salted caramel, and Cake Cafe’s goat cheese stuffed variety. In addition to all of the cake cake cake cake cake,  there will be live entertainment and raffle prizes, all wrapped up in the beautifully renovated Little Gem Saloon.

Slow Southern Style is giving away two free tickets to one lucky random winner. Contest runs through January 31st, winner announced on February 1st.

 All you have to do to enter is:
1. Comment below what’s your favorite place to buy king cake and
2. Like Propaganda New Orleans on Facebook.

 Can’t wait to find out if you’ve won? Buy tickets online here and receive $3 off with discount code SSS.

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Tips to get your costume together

It’s officially carnival season- are you as giddy as I am? While I’ve already got most of my costume supplies, I haven’t done a lick of sewing yet. I’m keeping it all a secret this year, but three words: orange short shorts. Want another hint? That’s what my husband is wearing. 

If you need a little help figuring out what in the hell you’re going to be for Mardi Gras, fear not. I’m sharing my tips to get your costume together at the East Bank Regional library on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00pm. From what to look out for when shopping, to a list of stores you’ll need to make it happen, consider this DIY Costume 101.  For more information check out the library’s calendar listing by clicking here or sign up on the Facebook event page. Have a question you’d like answered? Leave it in the comments below, or send it to

Mardi Gras 2012

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Going to the Mardi Gras- Flamingo Style

I teased y’all enough this year with my Mardi Gras Quasi DIY series, where I gave a sneak peek into the raw materials that were transformed into a hot pink, flamingo spectacle.  So without further ado here’s what we wore on Fat Tuesday. There are plenty more pictures on the Slow Southern Style Facebook page, click here to see the entire album! I put a ton of work and a whole lot of love into our costumes, let me know what you think in the comments section.

Don’t become too entranced with my pasty white, flabby abs now.

Detail shot- I’m sure no one noticed my earrings.
Hat- Buffalo Exchange, trim from Jefferson Variety
Earrings- Buffalo Exchange
Bra- mine, all trim from Jefferson Variety except the middle medallion
Skirt- Bloomin’Deals thrift store
Opera length gloves- high school prom leftovers!
Check out those legs
Backpack- one of my essentials from this Uptown Messenger article

Hat- Buffalo Exchange, tiny top hat and bowtie handmade by me

Jacket- Funky Monkey, trim from Jefferson Variety
Wide collared shirt and tie- Buffalo Exchange
Wig- Uptown Costume
Shorts- (hideous women’s pants transformed) Red, White, and Blue
Fuzzy tall slippers- Buffalo Exchange

Detail of shorts and boots

Did you go to Mardi Gras this year? What did your costume look like?

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Simply Stunning Designs- The Name Says It All

There are people who attend Mardi Gras, and others whose lives revolve around it. For Edward Cox, his career is one “glittery, sparkly lump” and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Cox has been designing costumes since he was 5 years old. That’s right, f-i-v-e. He claims even at such a young age, helping his mother sew he knew what he wanted to do, and he’s been doing it ever since.

Archived design- image c/o Simply Stunning Designs

Just one of Edward Cox’s fantastical creations- image c/o Simply Stunning Designs

Designing costumes for the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Cox often outfits 100 children at a time for productions such as Cinderella.  Of course fairy tales lend themselves to Mardi Gras creations, although there are no glass slippers here. Comfort is important, especially with custom made masks. Cox takes into account the persons facial structure, where the eye holes need to go, and will even accommodate eyeglasses. Having worked with carnival krewes and being an equity actor himself, Cox knows that mobility is important.

He also keeps his prices affordable so people can love their purchases, be proud of their one of a kind creations and simply “have a blast”. He can even spruce up an inexpensive store bought costume. “No one just eats boxed mac & cheese” he states. “you have to play with it”.

Senore Muerte photo © Bill Pino

Want to pick up your own stunning design? Cox is selling his creations this weekend at Kajun’s Pub. Talk to the man himself, get yourself a drink at the bar, and to steal one of Cox’s signature phrases “have a blast”. Visit the Simply Stunning Designs Facebook page for more costume pictures.


Saturday February 18th & 19th

Roughly noon to 6-ish. 


Kajun’s Pub

2256 St. Claude Avenue 

New Orleans, LA 70117 


Leopard mask and golden zebra derby combo- image c/o Simply Stunning Designs

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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Four

Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY is a four part series. Catch up and read parts one, two and three here, here, and here.

The devil is in the details, so make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to accessorize accordingly. Since the husband and I are flamingos this year, we can’t let any opportunities for glitz slip by. Some feathered eyelashes here, some sequined trim there, I always try to max out what we are wearing. The problem lies with time constraints. Without fail, every year I’m up to my eyeballs in bead work or sewing sequins, only to come up with more and more ideas for the perfect costume. Just when I think I’m getting close to finishing my creation, one more detail pops into my head. 

Be sure to check in next Friday when all will be revealed!
black & pink feather eyelashes

handmade tiny top hat
70’s collar gets a sequin trim upgrade
john waters and/or portlandia would be proud
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Carnival Season Charms: Bygone Beads

There’s no better way to get in the Mardi Gras spirit than by checking out some truly unique and original jewelry from a local New Orleanian! Bygone Beads has the perfect accessories to make your entire carnival krewe jealous.
Designer Eileen Bevis-Bennett crafts one of a kind, southern New Orleans nostalgic charms and Czechoslovakian glass bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings and ornaments – a perfect gift to pickup for the Mardi Gras hostess or ya momma and dem’.

Liven up your purple, green and gold this season with some new, old pieces to add to your parade-day-duds. You won’t be the first to hold on to these nostalgic charms and beads. Each piece comes attached with its own dance card explaining the story and history of its original purpose and design.

Locals may know the story of the original glass Mardi Gras beads, but here is a way you can share this tradition with your friends and family year round. You’re not gonna catch any of these one-of-a-kind charms on the neutral ground this year so check out the website and stock up!!

Bygone Beads will include something extra special at purchase for all the Slow Southern Style readers when you mention the words “SOUTHERN LOVE” in the contact form. One pair of earrings from the A Piece of History Collection with each order. So definitely make it a priority to order something in time for Carnival Season!
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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Three

Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY is a four part series. Catch up and read parts one and two here and here.

What separates the men from the boys on Fat Tuesday are the details. Anyone can throw on a bagged costume and say they are dressed. But you wouldn’t do that, right? I’m a sucker for those important final touches, or rather a glutton for punishment. Anytime I think a costume is complete, I find one more minute embellishment that transforms it from plain to over the top. Last year, I was hand sewing tiny shells into the hairline of my husband’s wig the night before. Did anyone notice? Probably not, but when you are Poseidon, King of the Sea,  you can’t sport a pedestrian hairdo. 
This year it is all about going over the top gaudy. We’ve got more sequins and feathers than Liberace had piano keys. I like for our costumes to complement each other, but not mimic each other so I gave our flamingo hats their own personal touches.
The gal is on the left, the gentleman on the right. And kitty makes friends.

Ruffles add a feminine touch for her
A dapper bow tie for him
Minuscule millinery work is for the birds
Crumpled up homemade top hat pattern serves as stuffing

So how’s your Mardi Gras costume progressing this year? Are you almost done or haven’t even started?

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Gator Heads and Oyster Shells courtesy of Half Shell Productions

If you’re still looking for something to complete your Mardi Gras costume (or perhaps you haven’t even started on it yet), Halfshell Productions may have your solution.  Tracy Hamlin in NOLA offers a selection of appropriately quirky Mardi Gras headdresses and bustiers.  Like all good Mardi Gras costumes, Tracy’s designs feature plenty of feathers and beads as well as some more unconventional materials.
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

Here’s a bit from Tracy herself about her unique offerings.
You mentioned in your Etsy shop profile that you started making headdresses for the 2011 Mardi Gras season.  What prompted this?
Costuming is a New Orleans tradition. Sometimes it only takes one item:  a bustier, headdress or top hat, to begin the whole look and feel of a costume. That’s how it was for me. I made a Cajun Carmen Headdress, and then a feathered bustier, to march with Mondo Kayo on Fat Tuesday of 2011. I had so much fun wearing the outfit that I wanted to offer that one piece of “the look” that fires one’s creative process. 
Where does your inspiration for your designs come from?
My designs use local items like preserved alligator heads, feathers, king cake babies and nutria pelts because people in Louisiana have a connection to them.  I designed and wore the nutria skirt and Gator Bustier to the Righteous Fur Fashion Show in Lafayette in October. Nutria pelts are so lovely to work with. The fur is extremely soft, and I try to incorporate it into my designs as much as possible
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

You use so many different elements in your creations.  How do you choose the materials for each design?
 I sold a Gator Headdress to someone in Bulgaria.  Through, I have sold nationally and internationally, so obviously other cultures have connections to the designs, as well. I also like the look of layers: feathers in background and alligator heads and other items in the foreground. I do have some standard designs, but sometimes, I start with a number of items and put them together in a totally different pattern which creates a new design. At times, I have no idea how a piece is going to end up. Adding and subtracting items until it feels just right. I have to keep materials on hand so they can be incorporated into designs. That means that I have to keep collecting and upgrading the materials that I work with.

What are your plans for Halfshell Productions after the 2012 Mardis Gras season ends?  
I love what I am doing right now.  My 2012 plans include creating new designs, working with new materials, and going to more markets to expand my client base.
If you need still some unique Mardi Gras attire or if you’re just interested in taking a look at some of her designs, be sure to check out Tracy Hamlin at Halfshell Productions on etsy.
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

Elizabeth McNair

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