Pontchartrain Beach fabric, fleur-de-lis and Billy Reid jeans, oh my! Magazine Street, undeterred by big, past storms, re-emerges stronger than ever, with brand new findings and a grounded sense of that old feeling: There’s no place like home.
And it’s quite a place.
A major thoroughfare in New Orleans, the six-mile strip is dotted with quaint house-like stores and has a growing reputation as the place to shop. Once temporarily struggling from Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, stores here are making a comeback and putting New Orleans back on the map.
“It’s the Rodeo Drive of the South,” says Kate Palmer, who co-owns Quince, with her business partner Anne Provosty. The tabletop shop carries four exclusive collections, including its highly sought-after Sabre line of French flatware. Quince, unique in its offerings, shares something common on the street: Southern hospitality and a friendly, unspoken, competition to bring the bigger, better and most memorable.
Take Miss Smarty Pants, for example. The home accessories store known for its jewelry is gaining popularity for its newly restyled persona. “Miss Smarty Pants is a very down to earth person and everyone knows her and she’s your best friend,” says business manager, Timothy Darby. The store offers complimentary wine on weekends for customers visiting the “rue-de-la-sassy” pied a terre.
Over at Betty Hunley Designs, shoppers hover over Hunley’s whimsical artwork. The stationery store, which carries everything from Kate Spade journals to Crane’s
stationery is at its busiest. “People have learned how to value something that you can hold, like a letter,” says Hunley. Shoppers seek the personalized work by in-house designers Tanya Henriques, who custom makes children’s camp stationery, and Christina Sullivan, who whips up a contemporary look for invitations and note cards. Laughter echoes through the shotgun-style shop. “We have a good time here,” shrugs Hunley. “We’re kind of like a sitcom.”
Another place to grab and gab is Ruby, aka the only store outside Billy Reid stores to carry the designer’s clothes. “People come in the store to visit, talk and catch up – not just to shop,” says owner, and Billy Reid’s sister, Laura Lea Reid. Ruby also
carries Mynk jeans and several basic, cotton, fashion lines that are washer/dryer-friendly.
Those looking for tummy-tuck jeans will want to hit The Red Carpet for a pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. The women’s clothier known for its high-end couture is now carrying every day wear, a larger selection of handbags and wider range of sizes. “Now we go all the way from 00 to 6x,” says owner, Dawn Michelet.
Shoppers seeking something for newborns and children should visit Angelique Baby. The store offers maternity wear and clothes from newborn to tween. “We’re not really a store that has all the traditional things,” says owner Coleen Eastman. Angelique Baby stocks C&C California T-shirts, Quinny strollers and other items expectant parents might enjoy.
Objets Trouvés has all sorts of trinkets and services, like museum-quality custom frames and framing (a memorable gift for the mom-to-be), artsy Ewe letters and Venetian chandeliers. “I have lot of original art but I’m not an art gallery. I have a lot of antiques but I’m not an antiques store,” says owner Linda Friedlander. New items include birdhouses by David Bryce, whom she met while camping.
Similarly, Hazelnut, a furnishings store, is always finding new things or inventing them. “Life is change and as much as I believe in embracing the old, I love bringing in new things,” says Bryan Batt, who co-owns the store with partner Tom Cianfichi. Batt, who coincidentally plays art director Salvatore Romano on the AMC television drama Mad Men, recently designed Pontchartrain Beach fabric and is creating a new line of New Orleans-themed gifts.
Another spot for clothes and gifts with an expansive catalog is Orient Expressed. Once known for its hand-smocked children’s clothing, the store now carries glassware, lamps, purses and more. “We’ve become a real destination for brides, home décor, lovely lamps, home accessories,” says Vicki Moran, director of marketing.
But what about gifts for tykes? If you want to “super-size” the child shopping experience head to Pippen Lane. “We have everything,” says Manager, Shane Guidry. The 9,000-square-foot store is a self-acclaimed child emporium, complete with a play area and train tables. Popular brands include Paul Frank, Oilily and 15 different shoe vendors. The store also sells toys, strollers, furniture and linens.
The Shop of Two Sisters seems to be the place to talk all things bedding; the design studio is full of eclectic home furnishings, rugs, sconces (over 25 styles) and organic soy-based bedding. “It pulls moisture away from you and it’s hypoallergenic,” tells Rose Ali, who co-owns the shop with her sister Lee Ali, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers.
Another must-see place for home furnishings is Interior Designs, Inc. “We’re contemporary but can work in the architectural style of the houses here and we have pieces with legs that can carry you 5, 10, 15 years,” says Showroom Manager Jill McGaughey. With more than 60 vendors, an authorized dealer of Lee Industries and a carrier of exclusive lines like R&Y Augousti out of Paris the store keeps busy yet hangs on to its oasis-type feel.
Of course, if your sense of relaxation involves a massage, make sure to plop yourself down at Bamboo Apothecary. Check out the Laura Mercier skincare line or Natura Bisse of Barcelona – the stores two most popular regimens. If you have time, get a tan. “Right now we have a new brush tanning system, it’s a service that we do and it’s nonstop,” says owner Jill Painter.
Bare Minerals is the number one selling cosmetics line over at Beauty 101 and the Orgasm Blush from NARS is big. Beauty 101 now carries clothes and accessories, including Juicy Couture and Catherine Malandrino, among others. “We offer boutique service but with the selection you expect from something like a department store,” says owner Chloe Watters.
If you’re wondering where all the capri pants are coming from, the answer is the women’s clothing store, Weinstein’s. People have been buying the side-zip, Piazza Sempione pants three at a time! “We carefully handpick all pieces,” says Owner, Roz Weinstein. Weinstein’s recently added brands including Stella McCartney and Bottega Veneta.
To top it all off, there’s local artisan Mignon Faget. New to her jewelry line is a sterling silver coral pendant beaded and hand-strung on a pink coral necklace. She’s also created a new Under the Oaks umbrella. Still, her fleur-de-lis designs remain the most popular. “Mignon says we wear them as our badges of honor for what we’ve been through,” retells Virginia Saussy, executive vice president for the Mignon Faget gallery.
Understandably between the shiny pieces and nostalgia one’s eyesight can get a little bleary, that’s where Uptown Eyecare steps in. The optical center has just added its own lab. “Now we do our glasses on site so if you come in and you want to get a pair of glasses we can have them ready in a few hours probably or the next day,” says Laura Brown, who co-owns the store with her husband, ophthalmologist Ted Brown.
For some, salvation may lie in helping others. “We sold thousands of the Dirty Coast Renew Orleans’ T-shirt for two years until it ran out,” says Evie Poitevent, co-owner of Feet First, a one-stop shop for clothes, shoes and accessories – and those
popular Saints for Sinners medals. The store now carries the commemorative bumper stickers, of which $1 of every sticker goes to The New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund. The T-shirts can still be special ordered.
As for the rest of us, we can help in our own way, one credit card transaction at a time.
Hazelnut, 5515 Magazine St., 891-2424,www.hazelnutneworleans.com
Miss Smarty Pants, 5523 Magazine St., 891-6141
Feet First, 4119 Magazine St., 899-6800,www.feetfirststores.com
The Red Carpet, 3425 Magazine St., 281-4610
Betty Huntley Designs, 6057 Magazine St., 895-2870,www.bettyhunleydesigns.com
Orient Expressed, 3905 Magazine St., 899-3060,www.orientexpressed.com
Ruby, 3932 Magazine St., (985) 899-4940,www.shopruby.net
Beauty 101, 2728 Magazine St., 895-2869,www.beauty101nola.com
Quince, 2115 Magazine St., 556-9668
Weinstein’s, 4011 Magazine St., 895-6278,www.weinsteinsinc.com
Uptown Eyecare, 4004 Magazine St., 899-3937,www.uptown-eyecare.com
Shop of the Two Sisters, 1800 Magazine St., 525-2747,www.shopofthetwosisters.com
Interior Designs, Inc., 3814 Magazine St., 895-5110,www.interiordesignsnola.com
Pippen Lane, 2929 Magazine St., 269-0106
Mignon Faget, 4300 Magazine St., 891-7454,www.mignonfaget.com
Angelique Baby, 3719 Magazine St., 301-2583,www.angeliquebaby.com Objets Trouvés, 3956 Magazine St., 897-5066
Bamboo Apothecary, 4112 Magazine St., 895-1664,www.bambooapothecary.com