To be sure, I never thought I’d say this, but the South and Southerners are — in social media speak — trending. Our writers, musicians, chefs, artists and designers are media darlings, and for good reason — talent. Well talent, coupled with that certain way in which Southerners tell the story of the South and the Southern experience through their craft, but somehow also make it universal. As with most things in the South, it probably started with the food. In New Orleans alone, the national and local media (this outlet and this reporter included), can’t get enough of chefs such as John Besh, Justin Devillier and Donald Link, who transform our favorite Southern foods, elevating them to fine dining standards. Magazines, websites, blogs and every other form of media highlight our creatives, such as Mississippi-born, New Orleans-based Katy Simpson Smith, who wrote “The Story of Land and Sea,” to much acclaim and whose book “Free Men” also is gaining much recognition; countless musicians, including Stephen Colbert’s bandleader Jon Batiste, The Revivalists and too many more to list; painter Rebecca Rebouché; stationers, such as Alexa Pulitzer and the gals at The Grove Street Press; the creative floral designers at Pistol & Stamen — I could literally go on and on and on and on. Southern designers are getting their due this week May 18 through 22 as well with the inaugural Southern Style Now Festival, which I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago.
Organized in part by president Robert Leleux, writer, author and former editor of everyone’s favorite design magazine, domino, the festival features keynotes, exhibitions, parties, talks, a black tie gala benefiting New Orleans’ Preservation Resource Center and Traditional Home’s Southern Style Now Showhouse in Uptown. Talks by interior design all stars, such as Bunny Williams, India Hicks, Lela Rose and Vicente Wolf; popup shops with a lunch and lectures, such as one with Jim Shreve, president of Baccarat, author talks (Roy Blount Jr., and Julia Reed) and art shows; and even a rum tasting at Old New Orleans Rum, that includes an art show with the work of James Michalopoulous.
Leleux tells me the event came about when a seedling of an idea about how “we should do this,” snowballed and soon, he was booking the impressive lineup and “it became a reality,” he says. Leleux says, “I don’t know if you’ve ever had that happen, but it did and here we are!"
Having attended many design shows in other cities as a reporter covering design at the Austin American-Statesman, Modern Luxury Texas Interiors, The Houston Chronicle and other publications, I can tell you this is a must-attend event for design and art aficionados. It traverses some of the city’s best design showrooms, art galleries and museums, such as The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art; and fine homes, ending with a “Boozy Brunch: Blame It On New Orleans,” Bloody Mary event on May 22.
I’m all for an event celebrating the best of Southern style and creativity. That plus Bloody Mary’s? You can count me in.
For tickets to the show house and other events, click here. http://www.southernstylenow.com/register-b/