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Reading circus sotry, Keith Graves' Second Banana
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Like a Frock: Ragdoll a New Addition to Fabric of Magazine Street
by Ryan Sparks
A good merchant can always spot an untapped market, and while there’s no shortage of Crescent City shops where women can find a dress, not all of them have such a clear focus as Ragdoll, a new Uptown boutique at the corner of Magazine and Bellecastle Streets. Owner Rachel Roberts keeps her racks stocked with vintage-inspired frocks and shifts, colorful print dresses that evoke the style of 40’s and 50’s Americana.
She has an admitted personal affinity for the clothing style, but did her research while in college about whether she could turn a lifestyle into a business. Despite only visiting New Orleans a few times before moving from Memphis, she hit the bricks and discovered that not a lot of stores featured these unique dresses without the unique price. She felt it she’d found the best place to follow through on her vision.
“I chose the city for its unique character…and love of vintage and antique. Another thing I noticed the many times I visited New Orleans while planning my store was that everyone that lived here spoke so highly of the city," she said. "In most cities, there are the people that love the city and then those that just live there but really don't like it. Everyone was so incredibly nice everywhere we went, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall pub or fine dining restaurant, and everyone did nothing but build up the city.”
While she has found a readymade demographic waiting for her, she has tried to bring new interpretations of the hip housewife look to the city and offers a lot of labels that weren’t represented in the region yet, like Trollied Dolly from the UK and Kling from Madrid. Despite being imported European takes on classic American looks, the prices all come in well under $100. “I wanted a store where you didn’t just come in to buy one dress for an event,” she said.
Ragdoll is a bright and sunny shop with lots of nods to its period-piece sensibility. A vintage sewing machine table doubles as a jewelry display, other items are displayed on vintage buffets, dressers, end tables, or suitcases. There’s even a jukebox with 50s tunes that Roberts hand pickedl. While the merchandise is inspired by the past, it never leans towards kitsch, and the shop fits in well alongside others of its caliber where things are fun but not cheap. All of the jewelry and décor is handmade, and each line of beauty products boasts all-natural contents.
Ragdoll is at 5235 Magazine Street, open Tue-Sat 11-7, and Sun 12-5.
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B. E. Mintz
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