Summer in Paris
A local boutique carries all things French.
I have never been to Paris, but, I imagine if I had the opportunity, the trip would be almost dream-like. French fashion is simply divine, and studying the rich history of haute couture and French fashion designers is a must for any student of fashion. Paris exudes romance, and, for all Sex in the City fans, Mr. Big rescued Carrie Bradshaw from herself in Paris. Yet, according to many travel sites, the summer months are the least Parisian time to visit the City of Lights. It is hot and muggy, and the weather is unpredictable and erratic. Sound familiar? July in New Orleans can be a bit trifling at best. The city always moves at a slow pace, but summer in the Big Easy is practically in slow motion. The only thing bustling is the buzz of the bugs, and we have to be prepared for a deluge every afternoon. I may not get to travel to this decadent French city anytime soon, but there is a special store in New Orleans where you can shop all things Paris. As an added benefit, it also has air-conditioning and is sublime any time of year.
Bonjour, mon ami!
Located near the corner of Jackson Avenue and Magazine Street, Peony Nola is an original and imaginative boutique that offers all the splendors of Paris. Owners Jennifer Atkins and Cricket Lapeyre have created the most enchanted shopping experience. The boutique houses contemporary women’s and fine children’s clothing, gifts and home goods directly from the streets of France. From the moment you cross the threshold, you are transported into a Parisian fantasy. Peony is a picturesque retail encounter that captures all your senses and fulfills all your fashion desires. The space is decorated and filled with whimsical details and magical fixtures from local artist Kaki Foley.
“My talented friend Kaki is my girl Friday; she pulls things out of my imagination and brings them to fruition,” Atkins says. It is as if Foley created a home for French fairies. Atkins and Lapeyre wanted to design a space where clients can take a break from carpool lines and the work day. The goal is for customers to feel relaxed and happy in a lovely environment, combined with a gallery-like experience that is curated with love. Tessa Rowe, store manager and muse, has a strong visual background and assists the owners in merchandising the inventory to complement the space and artistic elements. The owners credit Rowe’s fantastic ability to keep things pretty.
In this day and age of internet shopping, it is important to capture and hold the attention of your customers. Not only is the space a daydream, but the inventory is equally unique and ethereal. Atkins and Lapeyre attend European market shows to bring back to New Orleans the unexpected and extraordinary. From classic French labels to lesser-known brands, the pieces always have a wow factor and must be something the owners truly loved. Peony carries easy-breezy day dresses for everyone, from the smallest of bébés to trés chic moms and ladies. With a new expanded space, Peony was transformed into a one-stop shop. “We can dress you from birth on, yet the fashion, for all ages, will always be a relaxed, pretty, polished look with a distinct edge,” Atkins says. In addition to clothing, there is jewelry, shoes and accessories for all ages. Peony carries magical items for your home, gifts for loved ones and enchanting accents to spruce up a party or dinner.
Surviving the summer months in New Orleans is no easy task, and being in retail during this time can test your sanity. How does Atkins handle a New Orleans summer, and why does she always seem so pleasantly positive? “Champagne,” she says. Oui, oui to that!
Peony Nola and Petite Peony
2240 Magazine St.
Cheers to all things French! Happy shopping and happy Bastille Day!
–Aimée Gowland, ALG Style