Léda Hincks was born in New Orleans on December 30, 1886. She graduated from Newcomb College in 1907 and a year later married Henry Ovid Plauché, who would go on to have a long career with the New Orleans Cotton Exchange.
The Plauchés were great lovers of Mardi Gras; Henry served as captain of the Krewe of Atlanteans for 40 years and was involved in hundreds of balls for other krewes. It was Léda, however, who had the more lasting impact on Mardi Gras history.
After being poked by a crochet needle as a child at her home on Frenchmen Street, her mother, impressed that she didn’t cry, gave her a nickel. Léda took that nickel and bought a set of paints, her first step to a career in art. She later became a commercial artist for Maison Blanche and designed her first costumes for the Krewe of Nereus’ ball in 1916. Seven years later, she designed both costumes and floats, this time for the Krewe of Proteus (the theme: “Myths and Legends of the North American Indians”).
In 1928, she designed the Comus parade floats for their theme “The Travels of Marco Polo.” After adding Rex and Momus to her client list in the following years, Léda Hincks Plauché became one of the only artists to design parades for four major societies.
One of her most lasting contributions to Mardi Gras was her 1930s design of the golden canopies of King Rex’s throne, which is still used. She retired from Mardi Gras design in the late ’60s.
Léda also operated a gift store on St Peter Street in the French Quarter for about 30 years: The Green Orchid Gift Shop. She died in 1980.
“The Wondrous Gifts of Solomon” float designed by Léda Hincks Plauché, part of the 1941 Rex parade “Gems from the Arabian Nights.” In ’59, Plauché donated a large collection of her original designs to the New Orleans Public Library. You can access these images by visiting NewOrleansPublicLibrary.org. Photo provided courtesy of the New Orleans Public Library.