Posted in: Things we love- Nov 30, 2012 Comments Off

It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a month since we participated in the November 2nd, 2012 Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation’s (LCEF’s) annual fund raising event, LA Fete Louisiane.  Nobody knows how to celebrate like New Orleanians…and that fabulous event is still fresh in our minds!

The LCEF’s mission is to help strengthen Louisiana’s economy by providing grants and assistance to the state’s indigenous, cultural businesses.    The recipients of its efforts have included chefs, musicians, filmmakers, fashion designers, craft artists, visual artists, preservationists and other creative people who give Louisiana its unique identity.

Each year the LCEF holds its annual fund raiser in a different city in Louisiana, and this year’s was in New Orleans at the beautiful and historic Joan Mitchell Center on Bayou Road.  Sponsors included a Who’s Who of  private individuals and corporations including Capital One, COX, and Chevron, Jay Weigel, Galatoire’s and Zea’s, just to name a few.

Lisa Iacono (l), Lauren Siegel, Kat Bosio, Hope Meyer, Nina Gensler, and Moi (Michele Bernard)!

The event was an absolute sell-out!  They sold twice as many Patron Party tickets as they had anticipated and everyone had a fabulous time.  There were well known artists there supporting young artists, and leading chefs from  top-notch restaurants preparing the most savory local dishes imaginable.  There were business leaders, socialites and politicians, many of whom came out in support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu.  Mayor Landrieu was the recipient of the organization’s 2012 Lifetime Cultural Economy Achievement Award.  The Mayor is credited with the development of the World Cultural Economic Forum (WCEF), an annual event held in New Orleans that draws leaders worldwide to shape the international discussion on culture and its economic impact. During his tenure as Lieutenant Governor, Mayor Landrieu also launched a Cultural Economy Initiative to grow jobs throughout the culture, music, food, film and other arts, which ultimately led to the formation of the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation (LCEF).

Lauren Siegel and Kat Bosio modeling MAGID BERNARD

Me (Michele Bernard) on the left with fashion designer, Lisa Iacono

Our thanks go out to Gregg Porter for inviting us to be part of this wonderful event. Gregg, without our knowledge, told the LCEF LA Fete committee about us, and they immediately jumped on the idea of doing an informal modeling event featuring our collection.  Since we began our business in New Orleans, where I was also born and raised, we were to be their Louisiana “Success Story” for the evening!   While informal modeling events are not the kind of thing we usually do, something about it felt right, and we agreed.   And we are so happy we did so!  Participating in LA Fete took us back, in many ways, to our New Orleans roots and the things we love so much about Louisiana culture.  There is such a strong sense of belonging.

Nina Gensler, Hope Meyer, Lauren Siegel and Kat Bosio

Even Magid, who lived in New Orleans for many years, but was born outside of the U.S., feels like he’s going “home” every time we go back.  To say that we, and our work, were “embraced”  at LA Fete  is an understatement.  Our welcome was overwhelming, and the interest that everyone showed towards our collection, extremely gratifying.  What was suppose to have been a brief showing of several highlights from our collection, became a full evening event!

Nina Gensler and Lisa Iacono helped with the model selection, and without them, we would never had such a wonderful show.  All of the women were lovely, poised and natural, allowing the guests to relate to them immediately.  In fact, at the end of the evening, Aimee Smallwood (LCEF’s CEO), said “I can see myself in those clothes!”

Hope, Kat, Michele, Nina, and Lauren

We were to do informal modeling during the Patron Party from 7pm to 8:30pm.  When Aimee saw our how fabulous our models looked, she asked if they would be willing to greet the Patrons as they arrived.  Then, once the modeling began, the crowd couldn’t get enough of the fashions, and our models continued through five changes of clothing each….right up until 10:30!   When I finally emerged, around 9:45, I felt like I was given a celebrity reception!  Everyone wanted to know every detail about the collection and what we do.  It was a truly wonderful, and humbling experience!

Lauren Siegel with Kat Bosio

This was a first class event in every way possible.  Not only was the setting at the Joan Mitchell center lovely, but all of the efforts that LCEF CEO, Aimee Smallwood, and her team put into it were superb.  There was a sense of success and excitement that pervaded the entire evening and kept everyone’s spirits high.  The silent auction was glittering.  The artwork that was up for bidding was some of the best I have seen in a silent auction. My brother, Brad, was lucky enough to procure a beautiful piece called “Bayou Marshes”, by artist Jillian Gibson.  Painted in acrylics with pastel on a wood panel, the scene depicts a marsh where Brad used to fish!  The The wrap-around, though,  is that Gregg Porter had been bidding on the same piece all night!   At least it stayed “in the family”!

Nina Gensler was my go-to person from the start.  She was helpful in so many ways.  Her event planning and PR skills made a difference in our presentation.  Thank you, Nina!

I would also like to thank fellow fashion designer, Lisa Iacono, of NOLA.Sewn fame, for helping me in several ways to get through this event.  She was my right hand that night and I’m so appreciative!

(Okay, I’m finished….I can see the HOOK from stage right!)

It was fun and fulfilling and who wouldn’t want to be a part of supporting Louisiana artists?!

For more information on The Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, visit their web site at: www.culturaleconomy.org

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