Nicole M. LeBlanc

Nicole Mercedes LeBlanc grew up in New Orleans and received a B.A. in French and Political Science in 1985 from Newcomb College of Tulane University. She fell into the millinery trade almost accidentally in 1981. Since 1983 she has been designing hats exclusively for Fleur de Paris in New OrleansFrench Quarter. [2] Each hat is a one-of-a-kind artwork meant to last a lifetime, constructed and sewn using only the finest quality vintage and contemporary materials. LeBlanc has designed at least 15,000 hats – no two exactly alike—since she began her millinery career. Many of her clients collect her hats as wearable art.

During her lengthy tenure at Fleur de Paris, LeBlanc has also been the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (1986). She used the award to pursue independent millinery studies in London, Paris, and Florence. She has studied and apprenticed briefly with many individuals who come from the grand European millinery tradition, including Heather Pennington; Philip Somerville (milliner to the British Royal family); Kirsten Woodward (former millinery designer for Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld); Walter and Ian Wright; Marie O’Regan (former Christian Dior millinery designer, retired senior millinery tutor of the London College of Fashion and frequent columnist in The Hat magazine); and Susie Hopkins (also of the London College of Fashion and author of the book Hats of the Century). While living in London, LeBlanc was an award winner in the 1987 Young Designers of Great Britain Millinery Competition.

Since her return to the United States, LeBlanc has continued as head milliner of Fleur de Paris in New Orleans. She is one of the subjects in “What is it about Hats?”, a documentary by Andee Kinzy about hats, hat lovers and millinery[1] Fleur de Paris, LeBlanc and her hats have been featured in The Hat Magazine (Winter 2006), The New York Times; The Dallas Morning News ("She's Got a Head for Ladies' Hats", April 15, 2001); Southern Living; Platinum Magazine (Fall 2002); Where Magazine, The Times-Picayune (fashion section profile, April 1986), CityLife, Essential New Orleans (inaugural issue, Fall 2003, "Crowning Southern Ladies and Gentlemen"), Scat, Southern Woman and Gambit; the Greenville (SC) News-Piedmont (spring 1986); various Tulane University publications; the British Home Stores employee magazine (Winter 1987); and the illustrated travel book "Very New Orleans" (among many other guides to the city,[2] She has also been profiled twice on New Orleans television for her Easter creations. Fleur de Paris and LeBlanc’s hats were prominently featured in a pivotal scene of the Melanie Griffith film Crazy in Alabama. She was also the subject of articles in Southwest (Airlines) Spirit Magazine[3] and FrenchQuarter.com[4] At least 11 of her hats have been chosen for display in the past 3 years at the Kentucky Derby Museum and her work has been selected for inclusion in a hat calendar.

Noted Bourbon Street resident and Southern author TJ Fisher — named by the media as suitably eccentric and outrageous to represent New Orleans[5] — is often photographed wearing LeBlanc custom hat creations.

In a New York Times essay following Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent tragic flooding of most of New Orleans, author Mark Childress listed the hats at Fleur de Paris as the #2 thing that should be missed about the city[6]). LeBlanc also been featured in several radio stories [7] and media reports.[8]

References


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