It was actually a man who said, “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” Certain women carry the torch of independence and create their own definition of themselves, demonstrating style in the face of fads. Inevitably, they are the older and wiser, and they light the way for us all.

You don’t have to go far to find them.

There's Sue Golden, who used to be a buyer in a New Orleans department store and still looks it. And the still-wearing-stilettos Marguerite Bordelon. Her secret? “I change into them before I go in,” she said with a laugh. “And I’ll be wearing them in my wheelchair.” There’s Aunt Betty’s lace-ups and then there’s stilettos. Bordelon knows how important it is for a woman to hold the line. And that a man won’t notice your $3,000 necklace, but will notice if you’re wearing flats.

Judy Kennedy owns a Jackie-O pillbox and a vintage mink stole and some Emilio Pucci heels that come with a shoe hangover the next day. The late Mo Trent was always well-dressed, and never failed to astonish with her style. Brenda Hargrave is a grande dame by both definition and demeanor. Where beauty once sits, it remains, and her perfect silver chignon is testimony to it. The same goes for New Iberia’s Harriet Shea.

There's Millie Myers, whose spring green and fuchsia silk flower stood out at the Petroleum Club tea, along with lady in red Lolo Richard — her jewelry and jacket as perfect as her lashes.

And, as always, there's the gold standard of Gretchen Stewart, who sported a coonskin cap and fringed leather frontier dress at the Mad Hatter’s luncheon.

Much like the Carnegie female — by the way, that’s the New York Carnegies, as in Carnegie Hall — who frequently wore a bandanna on her head and a buck knife.

To dinner parties.

Patricia Gannon covers society for the Acadiana Advocate.  She can be reached at

Bright Lights Awards

There was plenty of style at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Bright Lights Awards Dinner. The UL Student Union was alive with literati, not the least of which was Humanist of the Year Darrell Bourque, Humanities Book Award winner Viola Fontenot, Humanities Documentary Award winner Cameron Washington and Michael P. Smith Memorial Award recipient Frank Relle. Guests roamed a silent auction with hors d’oeuvres before sitting down to remarks by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and LEH President Miranda Restovic, while a lucky few were awarded the table centerpieces by New Orleans glass artist Juli Juneau. The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational opportunities to Louisiana residents and has been achieving this mission for 48 years.

Friends of Music

FOM met at the Palmetto Club for all things Italian and to honor Don and Tish Johnson. “From Italy with Love” attracted music lovers and supporters for an evening of classical entertainment. “We’re doing all Italian music, food and lots of singing,” said music professor Shawn Roy, of the UL School of Music and Performing Arts. “Eighty-five percent of the student performers this evening are on FOM scholarships.” Fond of things Italiano were Roger and May Waggoner, Dean and Mona Burris and baritone Miguel Ochoa, soon to be seen and heard in “Chicago.” Proceeds from the evening will go to fund additional scholarships. The Friends of Music was established in 1996 to assist the UL School of Music in achieving musical excellence.

Petroleum Club Tea

And in the grand ballroom no less. Petroleum Club ladies had their tea in style, the better to view a style show courtesy of Raffaele Furs & Boutique. “We’ve brought furs, clothing, both day and evening,” said Kay Ouzts. Dressed to the nines already was Millie Myers, Marlene Milam, Sally Ware and Lolo Richard.

Friends of Humanities

The A. Hays Town Building at the University Art Museum hosted a trio of attorneys in conjunction with the Angola photography exhibit, “Slavery: The Prison Industrial Complex” by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick. The lunch was bring-your-own and the subject matter was murder 'n' mayhem as the speakers explained the whys and wherefores of criminal law and capital punishment. Taking the podium were Tommy Guilbeau, criminal defense lawyer; Paul Hebert, who adjudicates disputes between prisoners and the penitentiary; and Jim Lambert, who is working with 10 death-row inmates through the Kairos Prison Ministry. Definitely not your everyday lunch and learn.

Sweethearts for the Arts

Home 2 Suites hosted Cité des Arts' major fundraiser, and female trio Sweet Cecilia absolutely stole the show. “Glad to help,” said singer Laura Huval. “We have to support each other. In Cecilia, where we live, we’ve been designated a cultural district, and St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians.” The group opened with what they call American country music and “Fairy Tale,” the sweet potato biscuits were to die for, and so was the erotic print etching by Louis Icart, donated by Dr. and Mrs. Joe Riehl, on the auction line. We’re just sorry we didn’t bid, and if you can find Sweet Cecilia’s CD “Sing Me a Story," you need to. How they’re not in Nashville we don’t know, but we’re sure glad we went.