Nothing Is Quite Like MIMI

like-mimiLocated across the street from one of New Orleans’s most popular destinations, Emeril’s Restaurant, couldn’t hurt. Not that Mimi needs an extra boost. The store has evolved into the quintessential shopping experience for the New South woman, meaning equal parts feminine, cosmopolitan and professional.

“We felt that our first location in Riverbend was too collegiate, so in 1993, we moved to the trendier Warehouse District where there are more professionals and tourists,” said Mimi Robinson, one of the partners.

Along with its new 1,800-square-foot location, the store got a new name — it was originally called The Front Room — a new partner, Rae Matthews; and a brand new image — clean and lofty with more fashion-forward, designer collections.

Robinson reports Saks Fifth Avenue is her biggest competitor, but that she’s able to keep customers through high-quality service.

“Trust is very big. We have close personal relationships with our customers and know their lifestyles,” she said.

Even though her customers are the type who shop everywhere, …

Before Katrina, Retail Money Was Spent At A Major Clip

harrasFew have been able to resist the charms of New Orleans, from its flavorful cuisine to its wedding-cake mansions to its historic French Quarter. A popular holiday destination, the revenue brought in by tourism ranks behind only the petroleum and shipping industries (New Orleans is the second largest port in the U.S.).

Even with all its current attractions and major festivals, the city is committed to broadening its appeal. Among the many projects slated to open by the end of 2000, a few include Harrah’s New Orleans casino, the New Orleans Sports Arena and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Although institutions like Commander’s Palace and Antoine’s continue to serve traditional French Creole fare, the city often lands on the pages of the New York Times for its hot restaurants. Restaurateur and TV chef Emeril Lagasse leads the pack in changing the face of New Orleans’s cuisine with his signature cry of “Bam!”

No trip would be complete without visiting Cafe du Monde for its world-famous beignets doused …

More Amazing NOLA Sights!

amazingnolaNew Orleans is not known for grand interiors. Having settled on land sunk below sea level, the city’s builders necessarily focused on more prosaic concerns. The most spectacular rooms are part of 19th-century private homes, available for viewing only if one is lucky enough to get a cocktail invitation.

In fact, the city’s true nature is external. Until air conditioning came along, residents had always existed in a permeable realm between inside and out. Houses are distinguished by shuttered galleries and front porches, and the historic French Quarter, with its balconies and intimate courtyards, speaks most forcefully to lives lived outside.

Rife with must-sees, New Orleans is also a city of must-taste, -touch, and -feel. Here’s where to go for a host of sensuous pleasures.


U.S. Custom House/Great Marble Hall

This fortresslike gray-granite building occupies an entire block of Canal Street, downtown’s main artery, on the outer edge of the French Quarter. Dating from 1848-80 (it was restored by local architects in 1996), the …

Talkin’ Cajun Christmas, Y’All

cajun-christmas“Christmas, New Orleans Style,” is a monthlong celebration held each December that incorporates, along with traditional holiday activities, elements of the city’s Creole and Cajun heritage.

Creole customs and festivities

Some people, unfamiliar with the complex interweavings of New Orleans and Louisiana society, use the terms Creole and Cajun interchangeably. Nothing could be further from the truth. Creoles were long the city’s elite. They can trace their ancestry to members of the French and Spanish nobility who immigrated to the New World. These people founded huge sugar plantations on the island of Saint Domingue (Haiti today), and kept black slaves who bore illegitimate children to their French and Spanish masters. Racially mixed, though this was never openly acknowledged, Creoles provided both the society and the scandal of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century New Orleans.

Cajuns, on the other hand, descended from the Acadians, French Canadians who were expelled from Nova Scotia by the British. They wandered across half a continent before putting down roots in the bayous of …

Eating New Orleans Style Is Easy

orleansstyleIt’s the weekly managers meeting, and Ella, the doyenne of Commander’s Palace, and Dottie, who specializes in interior design, are describing an incredible redfish stew their mother used to make back in the 1930’s. Yes, that would be nice for the menu, they agree. Then Lally the restaurant’s day-to-day manager, thinks of a wonderful crab-cake appetizer she recently sampled in New York when she was there to accept an award for the restaurant. Why don’t we try something like it? she suggests.

Which makes her cousin Ti wonder aloud whether the dish might be a good addition to the menu of her gourmet market, Foodies’ Kitchen, Commander’s takeout branch.

Just back from Paris, Dottie passes around stacks of fabric swatches and Polaroids, all ideas for the new Commander’s Palace soon to open in Las Vegas. Comments fly back and forth–and then it’s over. As each of the commanders of Commander’s Palace tears off to her respective post, Ella proceeds to the front of the house, where …

Shop Shop Shop In NOLA

shopinnolaNew Orleans is an enchanted island. Napoleon dubbed it “Isle d’Orleans.” Early French settlers called it “leflotant,” the floating island. Physically an island dug out of a swamp, it’s the only major American city that lies below sea level.

It’s distinctively a world unto its own, with a sense of exhilaration, mystery, magic, romance, music, language, food, customs and attitudes — even gastronomic delight and fascination with death. Visitors to the NACDS Marketplace convention will have lots to explore and enjoy, as WWD discovered.

Tours of the City

Walking is one of the best ways to appreciate the beauty and architectural wonders of New Orleans, particularly the French Quarter and the Garden District, which both possess their own distinct character. Rangers from the National Park Service lead walking tours of these two districts every day. The free walks lasts 1 1/2 hours on a first-come, first-serve basis. Passes are distributed from the ranger station at 916 North Peters Street for the French Quarter tour. Reservations for …

Should New Orleans Have A Jazz Hall Of Fame?

halloffameHail, hail, rock and roll, at least in Cleveland. And make room for Memphis, too, which is hosting a soon-to-open Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in the city that gave us Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Louis, and Johnny Cash. Yet the startling truth is that rock and roll is a derivative music, a tributary of the great river of innovation that flowed up into the heartland from New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. The foundations of rock and roll, of rhythm and blues, of the swing bands that captivated the nation, were laid in the rich, cross-cultural milieu of turn-of-the-century New Orleans. New Orleans supplied the raw materials for something new under the sun, jazz, what has been called “America’s greatest indigenous art form.”

A musical jambalaya combining European melodies and instrumentation with west African rhythms, jazz was something more than the sum of these ingredients. In one of those mysteries hidden from view of the most discerning historian, a new aesthetic vocabulary sprang to life …