Making it in NOLA: Fashion Designer Carrie Licciardi

“Every true New Orleanian has to come back home.” When Carrie Licciardi came home in 2010, she brought her drive, talent, and all the passion and knowledge that 8 years in the Los Angeles fashion industry had afforded her. Now, only a year after launching her company, Prêt à Porter Designs is thriving in the New Orleans fashion world. The line can be found in over 20 boutiques, has had two full collections in runway shows, and is gearing up for a third at NOLA Fashion Week in September.

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Carrie’s design aesthetic focuses around the standard of “Basic Needs, Material Perfection.” “The clothes have a lot of movement and are comfortable…I kind of design with ‘what would I want to be wearing while dancing at The Maple Leaf’ in mind,” says the designer. “The beauty of Prêt à Porter is that one look can be classic and timeless and the other can be effortless and confident.” With a nod to the unpredictable weather of the South, Carrie’s fall collection is created to transition easily into winter with separates and bright, festive pops of red. Even more indicative of Carrie’s NOLA design inspiration are the splashes of black and gold that appear throughout the collection (Geaux Saints!).

Though Prêt à Porter has had incredible success over the past year, when Carrie first returned to New Orleans, a career in fashion wasn’t really an option. She struggled to find a creative outlet worthy of her FIDM degree and industry experience. “I did some graphic design work. I was literally designing pork and chitlins ads for discount meat places, just to be somewhere in the creative realm… obviously I was never fully satisfied. To be in the right place to start my company has been incredible.” A company, Carrie says, that she wouldn’t want to have pursued anywhere other than New Orleans.

“New Orleans definitely caters to young entrepreneurs in the city. I feel it’s a very supportive city and it’s a community in every different industry you encounter. New Orleans has a camaraderie about it. In Los Angeles I would have been a dime a dozen. Down here I get to incorporate the southern feel of it, I have something special to return to LA with that makes it unique.”


Prêt à Porter has a significant presence on all the major social media outlets (we’re particularly fond of their super vibrant Instagram account), but it was Carrie’s old-school footwork which got her clothes in front of customers. Traveling across the country from boutique to boutique, Carrie says her biggest selling point was the quality of her product. “They see it, they feel it, they want it.”  The clothes spoke for themselves during a recent trip to LA when a chance encounter landed Carrie in a popular Los Angeles stylist show room. Though it’s only been a few weeks, Prêt à Porter designs have already been pulled as Red Carpet possibilities by celebrity stylists.

In recent months, Carrie also expanded her accessibility via the popular online vendor Shop Local Style.  Created by another savvy set of New Orleans entrepreneurs, Shop Local Style provides online shoppers with the option to buy directly from small, local boutiques. You can check them out here.

Carrie’s Tips for Small Businesses and Personal Style:
  1. Don’t ever sell yourself short to get off the ground. I take pride in the fabrics that I have, I take pride in the fits we have, and I take pride in how we present ourselves and our company. That’s something that didn’t come easily right off the bat – it is a process. It would have been a lot easier to compromise on the quality in the beginning, and if we had it would have changed the entire direction.
  2. Focus on your strengths. My business partner, Charlie Rareshide is a huge asset. His background is the business side, my background is the fashion side.  He doesn’t talk clothes with people, I don’t talk money. Being able to focus on the style and brand direction is key.
  3. Use all the resources you have available.  In the world we live in Social Media is huge. In the beginning- even when we didn’t have much, we created the accounts (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.) just to have a presence.
  4. It’s important to feel comfortable and confident. If you’re in a suit but you’re uncomfortable, it’s going to wear in your face, it’s going to wear in your presence at meetings. You have to find what fits your body best and what feels good and makes you feel you look good. It’s about the image you PROJECT.

Find a local boutique with Carrie’s designs here, or catch Prêt à Porter on sale this Sunday at The Boutique Warehouse Sale at Oak Wine Bar.