On the Road: Southern Style Now


A festival celebrating Southern design, Southern Style Now debuted last week in New Orleans. Among the highlights: A Showhouse sponsored by Traditional Home magazine and celebrating some of the region’s best interior decorators and artists.


Gallery owner and art maven Blair Voltz Clarke, a native of Columbus, GA, wore our Draper James Sterling Stripe Tweed Panel Tee, Tweed Short, and Tweed Blazer to interview celebrated artist Hunt Slonem about Southern art for one of Southern Style Now’s keynote events. “I love every possible piece from Draper James,” said Blair, “But anyone that knows me knows I’m a sucker for short shorts!”

If your summer is already chock-full of music festivals, horse races, and other annual events, here’s another one to add to your list: Debuting last week in New Orleans (May 18th through 22nd), Southern Style Now is a celebration of Southern design, replete with keynotes with notable stylemakers, panel discussions, parties, exhibitions, a showhouse (open through June 12th), and antiques walking tours. 

“There’s an aesthetic movement building steam in the South,” says Texas native Robert Leleux, the author and former editor of Domino magazine, who founded the event. “Draper James, Garden & Gun magazine, Southern Style Now. . . We’re all attempting to pay reverence to our storied past, but to bring it into the current moment and make it just, equitable, and beautiful.”


Southern Style Now President and founder Robert Leleux with Gerrie Bremermann, who received a lifetime achievement award during Southern Style Now. “She’s the Southern Katharine Hepburn,” says Robert. “Her taste has so influenced Southern design, it is Southern design.”

“I also feel like we have, uniquely, a very proud sense of regionalism,” Robert notes.  “I’ve never heard an interior designer say, ‘I’m a Middle Western Designer.’  Or, ‘I just wanted this room to feel so Delaware.’ But I routinely hear interior designers say, ‘I’m a proudly Southern designer.’ or ‘I just want it to feel like the Delta in here.’ And I feel like what that really means is that they want to pay reverence to our past—to incorporate their grandmother’s silver, vanity table, etc., into their decor, but to also make it modern.”

As a location, New Orleans was an easy choice: “New Orleans is America’s most beautiful city, its most mysterious city, its most European city,” Robert says. “It’s already a global design capital; this is just an event devised to celebrate that.”

Among Southern Style Now’s many highlights (see the schedule here) was an interview about Southern art with celebrated American artist Hunt Slonem, who owns and paints in two estates in Louisiana. Art maven and gallery owner Blair Voltz Clarke interviewed Slonem—and wore Draper James for the event. “Southern art reflects our soul,” says Blair. “It speaks a language of warmth and hospitality that no other language can.”


At the Southern Style Now Showhouse, which is ongoing through June 12th, designer William McLure’s vivid, yellow dining room doubles as a library.


More from the Showhouse: Designer Melissa Rufty’s entryway is upholstered in a marbleized fabric.


Paloma Contreras’s guest bedroom is classic and youthful.


Designer and architect Chad Graci, who is based in New Orleans, at work on the Showhouse space he designed with partner Christina Javanmardi.


Designer Melissa Rufty, who is also based in New Orleans, in front of her inspiration board for the Showhouse.

Southern Style Now was a success for many reasons,” reflects Robert Leleux at this close of the weekend. “But just by giving people the opportunity to celebrate the glorious community of New Orleans—to stroll up and down Magazine Street, and to acknowledge the greatness of this city—we did what we set out to do. It’s in incomparable place. Describing it is like trying to explain the taste of an avocado or the scent of a gardenia.”