Helene Florence - New Orleans

Photograph by Sara Essex

Helene Florence is a former museum curator turned designer of wearable art. Her love of history and contemporary culture, exotic locales, and the elegance and decay of her beloved New Orleans, influence her intricate, unusual and oft-asymmetrical designs. Most of her embellished shirts, jewelry and other accessories are created using salvaged vintage kimono.

Helene’s interest in recycling this unique fabric was sparked during a stroll through a Kyoto flea market more than twelve years ago. She subsequently discovered the practice of kimono reform, the reworking of these beautiful and underused garments into things altogether fresh, accessible and ultimately wearable, never forgetting their rich and ceremonious origins.

Each of Helene’s one-of-a-kind pieces is crafted by hand in New Orleans. Besides the kimono, Helene enjoys incorporating other exotic textiles and any number of found objects, including stones, vintage jewelry, and beads into her pieces.

Before being discovered by Anthropologie in January, 2009, Helene sold her pieces primarily at New Orleans trunk shows. Her necklaces have been featured in Anthropologie stores in Beverly Hills, CA, Rockefeller Center, Manhattan and Austin, Texas. Her belts have been placed in both the Chelsea store in Manhattan, as well as the flagship Rockefeller Center store.

In Fall/Winter 2009, Anthropologie produced two of Helene's embellished t-shirts and placed them in 45 of their stores, including their London location.

Currently, Helene has one-of-a-kind pieces in the newly opened New Orleans store. She hopes to expand her studio so that she may be able to increase the production of her pieces while still making everything locally.