Kicking things off this month is an effort to resurrect a New Orleans chapter of Fashion Group International, an industry organization that at one time had an active presence in New Orleans.
Tracee Dundas, founder of Fashion Week New Orleans, Lucille McDonnell, a Fashion Group past regional director, and Jolie Bensen, one of the designers behind the New Orleans-based label Jolie & Elizabeth, are doing the heavy lifting for the new chapter, recruiting prospective members.
Before the local chapter folded following Hurricane Katrina, the group held the Alpha Awards, recognizing local design and artistic achievements, and provided networking events for local fashion industry professionals.
In another effort to spotlight local talent, Fashion Week New Orleans is accepting applications now through Jan. 15 for its Top Design Competition.
Ten designers will compete for a prize package that includes an invitation to show his or her work for 90 days at Hemline boutique and a professional photo shoot.
Fashion Week New Orleans will be held March 22-25. For details, go to fashionweeknola.com.
Looking back, 2011 will be the year when New Orleans seemed to discover that fashion could be more than just a pastime. Last year, we saw the advent of three fashion week here, each with a slightly different focus, but all sending a clear sign that locals are hungry for more style-centric entertainment on the calendar.
As an offshoot of one of fashion weeks, we saw the development of a New Orleans fashion council to help those interested in clothing-industry careers network.
We also saw the growth of homegrown labels, and we watched Seema Sudan of the LiaMolly knitwear brand raise more than $28,000 on Kickstarter to help bring the production of her locally designed sweaters to New Orleans.
The Idea Village, an incubator for entrepreneurship, also picked two fashion-related companies, Designer Social and NOLA Couture, to take part in its IDEAxcelerator program, a petri dish for cultivating serious small businesses.
While it’s too soon to say where all these efforts will take us, perhaps, 2012 will be the year when clothing — designed and made in the Crescent City — will become more common in local closets.