New Orleans Fashion Week threads together local designers, aspiring fashion gurus


Illustration was inspired  by Naeem Khan, Proenza Schouler and Givenchy.

In a city known better for walks down Bourbon Street than down the catwalk, New Orleans Fashion Week aims to establish the city as a sartorial force to be reckoned with. Starting Sunday and ending March 19, NOFW will offer the runway shows typical of a fashion week, as well as a design competition, pop-up boutiques and presentations.

The Second Annual Children’s Runway Day will kick off the week at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. The NOFW kick-off party will follow that evening at the Saint Hotel.

Runway shows take place at New Orleans Board of Trade on Magazine Street, starting March 17 with the Top Design Competition, which allows ten up-and-coming designers to showcase their work on the runway. The following two days will consist of runway shows, and each day will end with after-parties hosted by Gravier Street Social, Eiffel Society and more.

New Orleans Fashion Week, however, aims higher than to just provide an atmosphere for the stylish to come together and appreciate local designers. A driving goal of the week-long celebrations is to also help attendees get their foot in the door of the fashion industry by providing a space to network, learn and, above all, be inspired. On March 18, NOFW Career Day will offer guest speakers, career and internship opportunities with an atmosphere that explores the fashion industry far beyond what are considered “typical” careers in fashion. The price of admission to career day also includes access to the runway shows that evening.

“We have a full day of teachers that work in the industry and have successful careers in the industry across all platforms — designing, marketing, PR, owning your own business — all of that underneath the ‘fashion’ umbrella,” said Katy Sandusky, a production manager for New Orleans Fashion Week. “There is a whole group of students who really come and learn what it means to be in fashion, what opportunities and avenues that there are in the fashion industry.”

“Fashion Week” has become synonymous with a room full of extravagantly wealthy, impeccably dressed trendsetters looking intentionally bored as they watch outrageously-dressed models traipse down the runway, but NOFW aims beyond this. The driving force behind creating a fashion week in New Orleans is rooted in curating an experience that engages both consumers and sellers, improving the local economy and giving due recognition to designers in the area.

“Tracee [Dundas, Creative Director and Founder of NOFW,] has been in the fashion world for a while, and she actually owns and operates a modeling agency,” Sandusky said. “So after [Hurricane] Katrina, she came back and was figuring out exactly where the market was moving. She realized that there was a real need for a platform for all the talented models and designers in the region to showcase their talents.”

In keeping with this goal, a private “Designer2Boutique” event will be held, offering local designers the opportunity to meet with retailers that may want to offer their designs in stores. This event is one of the many ways NOFW hopes to bolster the success of local designers and allow them the opportunity to network and gain recognition.

Tickets are available online and at the door, starting at $35 for a single-day pass for students, and ranging to a VIP three-day pass for $375.

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