From a small, cozy shop on Webster Street, Jane Scott Hodges built an empire otherwise known as Leontine Linens. Revered by Hollywood celebrities, New York socialites and Southern belles alike, her heirloom-quality custom linens for the bed, bath and table have caused quite a craze. Boasting oversized insignias that purvey a distinctive Old World charm, these luxurious linens, embroidered in funky colors such as chartreuse and paprika, are anything but antiquated.
Established in 1996, Leontine Linens rapidly gained momentum with the acquisition of Kentucky-based linen company Eleanor Beard, and within a decade it had outgrown its original location. For her new showroom, Hodges envisioned a clean, crisp space that would both complement and contrast her highly embellished pieces, so she sought the guidance of local architect/ designer Brian Bockman. Although she didn’t know Bockman personally, she was familiar with his work, and upon their first meeting she knew he was the right man for the job. The two saw eye-to-eye on everything –– most importantly on the atmosphere of the showroom.
“For centuries gentlemen have had clubs where they can pour a drink, light up a cigar and socialize with friends,” says Hodges. “I liked the idea of creating a similar environment reminiscent of the old Park Avenue salons where ladies could visit and relax.”
Bockman researched the design and décor of such salons and then drafted plans to re-create one with a more modern, lofty flair. By using unexpected materials, fresh colors and contemporary furnishings placed in comfortable arrangements, he accomplished his goal. Old photographs of the Eleanor Beard salon in New York hang on the walls, providing a visual history of the company’s deep roots. From the ceiling dangles an otherwise-uppity crystal chandelier painted lavender, Leontine Linens’ signature hue. Clean-lined tables by Knoll Studio offer a casual alternative to office desks, and plush sofas placed at the center of the showroom offer patrons an inviting place to peruse swatch books and samples with consultants. Bockman also designed creative vignettes, including headboards and shelving systems, that display the linens in a “virtual home” setting so that customers can visualize how their linens will appear in a room. But it may be the lingering wall mural of the company’s stitch-motif logo that best connects the essence of showroom with the company’s motto, “Heritage Driven, Heirloom Destined.” The logo symbolizes the connection between old and new that is not only found in the showroom’s design but also lives in the very heart of Leontine Linens. •
Katy Beh Contemporary Jewelry
When her lease expired in 2005, Katy Beh didn’t have to look very far to find a new place for her gallery to call home. As luck would have it, the jewelry designer and owner of Katy Beh Contemporary Jewelry was able to literally walk her boxes across the street from 3701 Magazine St. to her new storefront situated at 3708 Magazine St. Despite the usual obstacles and inconveniences associated with relocating, it was an easy move and one that Beh believes was “truly meant to be.”
Just one look was all it took to convince Beh and her husband/ business partner, Tom, to purchase the former double shotgun. Not only was it twice the size of Beh’s first gallery, but it also had been renovated just three years earlier by British architect Rob Steul. Interestingly enough, Beh watched the renovation from her former space across the street.
“The silhouette of the shotgun house is still intact, so it fits into the repetitive pattern of the signature fabric of Magazine Street,” Beh says. “Steul also retained the classic lines and original heart-of-pine floors but opened the ceiling of the showroom to create a vaulted, beam-spanned space. The façade incorporates full-length glass windows that let in tons of natural light. The light lifts the space to create a stage-like effect to really showcase the jewelry.” The casework and cabinetry is a combination of birch, chrome and glass that provides a minimal and modern look that is also functional and organized. According to Beh, “It’s noninvasive and allows the jewelry to be the star.” With everything to her liking, Beh was thankful to have little left to change upon arrival. The greatest undertaking was the lighting design and installation that was completed by architects Greg Hackenberg and Jerry Sarradet of Curtis H. Stout Inc.
“This space is very me, just like my collection of jewelry” Beh says. “I have included tons of family photographs into the décor, as well as family furnishings like a refurbished 1940s sofa and chair that belonged to my grandmother. So ultimately, the store’s décor is an assemblage, much like a woman’s jewelry collection — put together from years of heirlooms, occasions, surprises and treats. The old and new get along quite nicely, I think.” •
For almost 30 years, Partysist helped local hosts entertain parties of two to 10,000. The family-owned operation was a $2 million small business, employing 22 full-time staff to provide event planning and catering for some of the city’s most fabulous fêtes. But as is the case with too many area businesses, Hurricane Katrina devastated the company with the loss of millions of dollars of equipment, décor, food and fine wines.
“We thought we should let Partysist die gracefully,” says Lea Freeman, who co-owns the company with her sister, Renee. “But we wanted to be back in New Orleans, and
we wanted to do something different — on a smaller scale with less overhead.”
So the Freeman sisters went back to the drawing board with a newfound sense of enthusiasm and optimism, not to mention an entirely new business concept. With a solid reputation, devoted clientele and a flair for entertaining, the two reinvented Partysist from a full-service catering company to a one-stop shop for the elements of entertaining. This Partysist would have no warehouse, no kitchen and no industrial-sized refrigerators. Rather, it would have a storefront filled with myriad treats that would entice everyone from the most discriminating gourmet and savvy sommelier to the impromptu entertainer looking for last-minute delicacies.
When a suite in Old Metairie’s Freidrichs Square became available last year, the Freeman sisters jumped at the chance to settle in. They went back and forth on ideas for the interior, but it was Lea’s daughter, Julia, who finally hit the nail on the head with the “four elements” concept. This concept was based on a successful event the company hosted years before with that very theme. The layout of the store would reflect the four elements of life: water, earth, fire and air. As shelves were stocked, products were placed in the appropriate elements, with white wines in “water,” bubblies in “air” and red wines divided between “fire” and “earth.” Goodies such as Ritrovo Italian foods and Vosges chocolates are also displayed in the proper elements. With this concept in mind, the Freemans selected designer Matt Voelkel to help put their plan down on paper.
“We were so anxious to get started,” Lea says. “We told Matt what we wanted, and 12 weeks later he presented us with his ideas. My only question was ‘How do we get this space to look like this?’ and Matt said, ‘Leave it to me.’ So we did, and here we are with a beautiful space that everyone loves.” •
Joel Dondis had a serious sweet tooth for style, and to satiate his appetite, he founded Sucré in April 2006. The Magazine Street “sweet boutique” is much more than just a candy shop — it’s a 2,100-square-foot emporium of edible art, including everything from freshly baked goods such as trifles and tarts to frozen treats such as gelato and sorbet. Under the leadership of renowned pastry chef and Sucré co-owner Tariq Hanna, all goods are created on site in a state-of-the-art kitchen and then stored and served in a climate-controlled environment that keeps each bite looking and tasting its very best. It’s this concept of “perfect presentation” that serves as the foundation upon which Sucré was built. The term describes more than just the way a dessert looks on a plate; it refers to the entire ambiance created by the color on the walls; the signature wrapping and packaging; and the swanky, curvy cases that showcase the delectibles.
While Dondis can be credited as the “man with the plan,” he enlisted Lee Ledbetter of Ledbetter Fullerton Architects to carry out the million-dollar renovation project that would transform the space –– formerly an upscale ladies’ boutique — into a Parisian-inspired sweet shop.
“I knew the build-out was going to be a challenge,” says Dondis of the transformation. “We were incorporating four stores — a coffeehouse, an ice cream parlor, a pastry shop and chocolate shop—into one to create a department store of desserts. We offer over 80 products on any given day, so we needed to bring them all together under one roof.”
To create a cohesive and refreshing interior, a mouthwatering color palette of pistachio green with chocolate and vanilla accents was used throughout the shop. This schema was inspired by the papers and packaging hand-picked by Dondis for the candy boxes. Richly stained woodwork, sleek marble and shiny steel hardware offer a look of simple sophistication, while original artwork by Alex Beard and amoeba-shaped light fixtures add a touch of whimsy. Outside, wide-eyed customers are drawn into the shop from underneath a contemporary canopy.
And who are these customers? According to Dondis, they are children of 3 and couples of 73. After all, everyone has a sweet tooth sometimes. •