Hello Dear Reader,

Sorry to break down the veil. This might be a bit more first-person than you're used to reading in our itineraries. However, this is The Darling speaking. I am the drag and burlesque persona behind Colton Clifford, the writer and content creator credited for this piece above! Personas have a silly way of taking over, so this is my moment to shine!

Colton Clifford, New Orleans & Co.
The Darling

In the wondrous way that this city exudes a certain sense of nostalgia and glamour around each corner, it also magnetically draws people here. From vintage enthusiasts to storytellers, photographers, artists, performers, and those who feel a deep connection to styles of bygone eras, there's a little something for everyone, and I'm here to help you find those places.

I couldn’t do this alone, so I decided to "phone a friend" to showcase more than just one way to discover it.

In the world of burlesque, I met Iridessence (aka Jezebelly), who is a model, self-portraitist, Vogue-featured costume history enthusiast, and a working burlesque artist in New Orleans.

 

Jump To:
Introductions | Where to Stay | Where to Drink | Where to Eat | Best Sweet Treats |
Must-Do Nightlife | Favorite Attractions | Top Shopping
Brittney Werner, Courtesy of Iridessence
Iridessence at The Chloe

The Darling:

So, I have to ask you—With a passion like that and self-titled “enthusiast,” tell me more about the work that you create?

Iridessence:

My work often features vintage, theatrical, and historical themes, marrying them to radical self-love in a socio-political landscape that marginalizes people of size and color.

The Darling:

So, what about this way of storytelling and expression draws you to New Orleans specifically?

Iridessence:

What draws me to New Orleans is a love of history, architecture, and Black culture and its diasporic adaptations! I think that’s what makes the city for most, whether they know it or not. Also, I met the love of my life down here, and there was a burlesque industry to work in, so it made sense to be here.

Now that we're acquainted with one another, let's dive into the guide!

Rebecca Todd
The Hubbard Mansion

WHERE TO STAY

There are plenty of beautiful places to stay in New Orleans, and honestly, finding somewhere that isn’t overflowing with vintage energy or glamour would be quite a challenge. This city, built over 300 years ago, is steeped in the history of these spaces.

Iridessence’s Picks

The Hubbard Mansion

The Hubbard Mansion is really cute! It’s actually a newer build, but it was made to evoke the Classical Revival style, and it has lots of precious Victorian Revival furniture. The interior is pink as well, which is very much my style. I’m excited to be getting married there in about a year!

The Darling’s Picks

Columns

The Columns Hotel is a stately 1883 private residence that was converted into a boarding house during World War I and became a hotel in 1953. It is filled with moody interiors and offers gorgeous spaces to relax and unwind. The bar and restaurant also boast delectable food and drink options. Don’t miss the chance to take a selfie with the Columns Martini in the lush gardens of the front courtyard.

Hotel St. Vincent

Hotel Saint Vincent

"Our Margaret," of The Saint Vincent’s Infant Asylum, filled this place with love and transformed what is now known as Hotel Saint Vincent into a sanctuary for both the young and old. Today, this eclectic boutique hotel is as sexy as it is chic, brimming with history and nods to glamour. Each month, the Chapel Club on-site hosts "Worship," an intimate burlesque experience filled with the art of the tease.

Maison de la Luz

With 67 bedrooms and suites, this luxury boutique hotel is a wonderland for the senses. Its bold sense of style offers both the comfort of a hug and a resplendent backdrop for a glamorous stay in the Crescent City. Connected to this space is Bar Marilou, but we'll delve into that later!

Photo credit: Paul Costello

The Chloe

The alligator rug leading up the entryway stairs is just the first hint of old-world charm blended seamlessly with contemporary elegance! This 19th-century Uptown mansion has preserved the charm of its Victorian roots while infusing modern twists throughout its interior. From the poolside ambiance to discovering the secret bathroom behind the armoire doors, every detail exudes charm. Enjoy the cocktail menu, relax on the rockers on the front porch, and savor delicious food at The Chloe Restaurant.

Justen Williams
The Vintage

WHERE TO DRINK

When it comes to enjoying a drink, these spots exude opulence and glamour in their own ways, whether big or small. They each offer a charming glimpse into old-world aesthetics for everyone to enjoy.

Iridessence’s Picks

The Vintage

The Vintage is really cute and aptly named! It’s kind of got more of a Belle Époque feel to it, and it’s a popular spot on Magazine (street) Uptown with some tasty cocktails… but it’s also more of a casual spot so people often bring their laptops and work there. It’s not weird if you dress up but there’s no pressure to do so.

Elysian Bar or Roosevelt Hotel

When I’m feeling lavish in style and/or budget, a place like the Elysian Bar in the Marigny is nice. Another thing I like to do is get a cocktail at the bar in the Roosevelt and enjoy it on the sofas in the lobby, away from the crowds.

Stephen Kent Johnson, Maison de la Luz
Bar Marilou

THE DARLING'S PICKS

Bar Marilou

Nothing says glamour quite like the vibrant red walls and zebra-inspired flooring that runs through this space, complemented by cozy vintage seating and a glowing ambiance. This place makes any vintage enthusiast feel as though they've been transported to planet glamour—and honestly, isn’t that the dream?

Double Dealer

Located below the Orpheum Theater, Double Dealer is housed in what may be one of the only basements I've ever been inside in New Orleans. Here, you'll discover not only one of the sexiest spaces in the city but also a venue that celebrates the vaudeville era. From its velvet stage curtains and vintage costumes displayed as art to the champagne portholes in some of the private booths, Double Dealer truly embodies the spirit of "curtains down, bottoms up."

Justen Williams, New Orleans & Co.
The Country Club

WHERE TO EAT

Dining may not immediately come to mind when thinking of glamour, but these spaces are filled with charm and provide perfect backdrops for selfies. They also beckon to the historical essence that makes dining in New Orleans so special.

Iridessence’s Picks

The Country Club

The Country Club has parlors that feel like an elegant fairytale, with painted flowers and birds over a cream base. They also host drag shows!

Court of Two Sisters

In terms of highly touristed spots, I’m still a sucker for The Court of Two Sisters, which is great for both brunch and dinner. Eating in the courtyard with the gorgeous canopy vines or in the back indoor dining area has always felt delightfully old-timey. Be warned that little sparrows may try to join you for the meal.

Tableau

Tableau is another nice and classic spot. I enjoyed their food, and they would be great for dinner, but if you can get there for a lunch special, that's another valid way to experience it. They’ve got chandeliers and a cool staircase, which is all a vintage girl really needs.

Rebecca Todd

The Darling’s Picks

Brennan’s

From the signature warm pink exteriors of this restaurant to the gorgeous fantasy interpretation of a French Orangerie adorned with murals of 19th-century Proteus parade floats, this place is where glamour and whimsy converge. Dedicated to divine classic New Orleans fare, it's a staple among nostalgic and vintage-inspired dining experiences at their peak.

Miss River

As a more modern build boasting all the features of modern amenities, this luxurious dining experience housed inside the Four Seasons New Orleans beautifully celebrates both old-world charm and modern interpretations of regional cuisine.

Jewel of the South

Taking a throwback to the era of taverns and housed in a Creole Cottage in the French Quarter, this charming space blends elegance and charm with great cocktails and delectable food. An evening out here feels like stepping back in time, with all the perks of excellent ambiance and even better hospitality.

Rebecca Todd

Jack Rose

Ambiance plays a pivotal role in why Jack Rose stands out. Bold graphic interior design is embraced wholeheartedly within this space. This lively concept is located inside The Pontchartrain Hotel on the oak-lined street of Uptown St. Charles Ave. and exudes opulence both in its cuisine and interior decor.

 

MUST-EAT SWEET TREATS

Indulge in something sweet with these delightful treats, where a single dish brings ample charm in spaces that resonate with the melodies of bygone eras.

Iridessence’s Picks

Café Envie

Café Envie has this insanely gorgeous bar counter, complete with historic, ornately carved woodwork. I’ve gone a number of times dressed like a Victorian, and it felt perfect! My favorite thing to get there is a raspberry rose Italian soda with cream and whipped cream on top.

Sucré

Whether Uptown or in the French Quarter, Sucre offers delicious macarons and other desserts. The interior is delicate and decadent, featuring pink decor with gold Art Deco-inspired accents.

Paul Broussard
Beignets at Cafe du Monde

The Darling’s Picks

Café Du Monde

This spot is literally vintage, dating back to circa 1862 when it operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, closing only for Christmas Day and passing hurricanes. It's home to a beloved treat of this city that needs almost no introduction—the beignet! Fun fact: it wasn't until 1988 that iced coffee and soft drinks were introduced to the menu.

Croissant D’or Patisserie

Angelo Brocato was the founder of this iconic space, and over the years, it has retained its Palermo-inspired Sicilian roots. The delicious, sweet treats that fill the glass cases of this shop have a special way of tantalizing your taste buds. Paired with the beautiful tile work and the cozy vibes of a small hometown bakery, this is a special stop filled with history and charm.

Madison Hurley Photography
Van Ella Bordella

MUST-DO NIGHTLIFE

As the sun sets in the Crescent City, the nightlife blooms into its own vibrant world. From burlesque and cabaret to theaters boasting architectural grandeur, there's no shortage of ways traditional spaces and show genres have evolved while honoring their nuanced history.

 

Iridessence’s Picks

Allways Lounge & Cabaret

A really great show to catch, if you can, is Miss Angie Z’s New Orleans High Society Hour. It usually features a four-to-six-piece band that plays fantastic burlesque jazz, and Angie herself has a very early 20th-century vintage coquettish singing style.

The Van Ella Bordella: A Storyville Burlesque is a mixture of burlesque and musical theater that depicts an early 20th-century brothel, and it’s as fun and sexy as it sounds!

Betsy Propane’s Smoke Show Cabaret happens every Monday at the Allways Lounge. It features classic blues and jazz along with salacious burlesque performances.

I also produce a show once or twice a year at the Allways Lounge called The Essence of Glamour. It’s a vintage-inspired burlesque experience with an emphasis on underrepresented bodies, and I strive to curate the most glamorous experience possible!

 

The Darling’s Picks

The Toulouse Theater

This theater and bar space has a long history of presenting iconic music, parties, live shows, and stage acts. Its history dates to the 1960s when it became a single-screen Walter Reade cinema. In the '70s, it transformed into a venue for live performances. Once known as the Shim Sham Club and later as One Eyed Jacks, Toulouse Theater, named after the street it calls home in the French Quarter, continues to be a great place to catch a show or a party. It is home to shows like Trixie Minx’s Fleur De Tease!

Marigny Opera House

Dating back to 1847 as a church space, this opera house was reopened in 2011 after being deconsecrated in 1997. Known as a "church of the arts," it features ballet, live music, theater, and performance art.

Saenger Theater

Opening its doors in 1927, this 4,000-seat theater is home to Broadway in New Orleans, as well as many local and traveling theatrical productions. Inspired by Italian Baroque design, this space is radiant with details from the moment you walk through its doors. It is a mesmerizing place to be enchanted by for any reason.

Rebecca Todd, New Orleans & Co.
M.S. Rau

THINGS TO DO

New Orleans is a wonderland of things to see and do. Here, you can immerse yourself in the rich history of our city and sometimes feel as though you've stepped through a door directly into the past.

 

Iridessence’s Picks

M.S. Rau

Every few months, I love to go to M.S. Rau. It’s free to enter, and everything is for sale if you have an extra $50,000 lying around. Ultimately, it’s a gorgeous gallery of incredibly well-preserved, unique, and highly precious antique furniture, art, and wares. It’s an experience.

Museum Hopping

If you’re looking for something that feels very 1940s, the World War II Museum is the perfect spot. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Ogden are great for viewing some late 19th and early 20th-century artwork. . The Degas House and Le Musée De FPC are right by each other, and if you can snag a tour, both offer fascinating insights into New Orleans history, focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries.

I have yet to visit, but the New Orleans Jazz Museum also has a distinct vintage focus, as jazz has roots in the early 20th century.

Mahogany Jazz Hall

Mahogany Jazz Hall is another historic spot that’s a great place to hear jazz, with a back room where burlesque shows happen.

 

The Darling’s Picks

Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall started as an artist gallery featuring live music to draw in the crowds. Naturally, the sounds of jazz took over, and now you can find yourself in this intimate space to enjoy the history of jazz at its roots in New Orleans. Many greats of the past and present have filled its room with unparalleled musicality.

Rebecca Todd
Cabildo

The Cabildo

The Louisiana State Museum’s origins date back to the 1890s. In 1908, the city of New Orleans transferred the Cabildo and Presbytère to the museum. The Cabildo building itself was constructed under Spanish rule between 1795 and 1799, serving as a center for government practice. Now as a pair of museums, The Cabildo houses this history through fine art and storytelling, or you can explore carnival exhibitions from New Orleans' past at the Presbytère.

Historic New Orleans Collection

This spot is perfect for history buffs looking to delve into the intertwining paths of history in the city. Acting as a museum, research center, and publisher, this collection spans three campuses in the heart of the French Quarter, where any piece of history is ready to be explored.

Steamboat Natchez

Over the years, there have been several iterations of the Natchez. The current one has been in operation since 1975. This beauty harkens back to yesteryear in many ways, such as with her 1925 steam engines. She is a classic beauty and a great way to tour the river and capture a grand, old-timey selfie.

Rebecca Todd, New Orleans & Co.
Gallier House

Gallier House

Step back into 1860, when Gallier House was designed by architect James Gallier Jr. The house museum offers a glimpse into what life was like at the time, not only through showcasing its history, but also by highlighting engineering innovations such as indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, and double skylights.

Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots

If you want to dress up like you're heading to the Kentucky Derby to bet on a horse and capture that prime selfie, this is the place. Especially on Thanksgiving Day, when locals traditionally dress in their New Orleans best and head down to the tracks for a fashion-forward grand old time! As Lana Del Rey said, “and I’m off to the races…”

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

This space is an interesting spot to tour, housing the largest collection of pharmaceutical memorabilia in the United States. Walking through this museum is like stepping into a past world, filled with all sorts of oddities and curiosities of yesteryear. The shop has served as a backdrop for film sets and is a spooky little stop to make. Rumor has it that Dr. Dupas, who lived and died in the space, practiced unethical experimentation there, and that to this day, the halls of this Creole townhouse are still filled with ghosts. Talk about a spooky selfie opportunity!

Paul Broussard, New Orleans & Co.
Trashy Diva

TOP SHOPS

Iridessence’s Picks

Trashy Diva

Trashy Diva will no doubt be a spot where people will find fun goodies, with several locations for lingerie and apparel throughout the city. They’ve been in business for a while and carry plus sizes up to a US 22, offering vintage reproduction options galore! I have modeled for them, and although I’m closer to a size 24, I prefer a snugger fit, so it worked out. The shoot was really cute, and the people who work there are incredibly kind.

Magazine Antique Mall

Magazine Antique Mall is another spot I’ve browsed a few times, with some really interesting odds and ends that make for finding the perfect souvenir! It’s pretty close to both Trashy Diva Vintage and Sucre, so sometimes I like to visit the mall and make one trip for a cute vintage or historical day!

 

The Darling’s Picks

Dark Garden Corsets

With a long history of providing high-quality corsetry for all types, especially showgirls and queer performers, this place offers both ready-to-wear and custom-made options. These corsets are crafted like none other and are a true dream to wear. You might even meet Iridessence while you're there!

Century Girl Vintage

This place changed my life the day I tried on a gown fully embellished with real pearls. Nothing has ever compared to that moment. From weddings to ready-to-wear, specialty, designer, and more, this shop overflows with glamour like no other space I have visited for vintage. It is radiant and truly one of a kind in many ways.

Vintage Market by Trashy Diva

Trashy Diva, mentioned before, is a wonderful place for vintage-inspired pieces. Recently, they opened a new space on Magazine Street that is home to actual, well-cared-for, beautifully curated vintage wear. From gowns and jewels to furs, hats, and purses, this place is one to get lost in!

Vintage 329

This isn't the place for those looking for clothing, but if you're in the market for vintage designer jewelry—Chanel, for example—this might be the stop for you. Although the brands and items they carry vary, why not at least go and swoon? Plus, there is an adorable beignet café nearby called, fittingly, Café Beignet, which has a wonderful interior perfect for a photo opportunity!

Vice & Graft

Located in the French Quarter on Royal St., this shop may not be as glamour-focused, but it is filled with vintage items, including menswear and various objects. This shop will still get a glamour girl's heart beating!

Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & Costume

A classic stop along Magazine St., this small but humble clothing and costume shop is perfect for finding accessories and more! Although not everything is vintage, the soul of glamour and sparkle is perfectly tucked away inside.

 

Well, we have done it, y’all! Say a big grand thank you to Iridessence for taking the time to share her wealth of information, and make sure you give her a follow online. I am constantly in awe of the content, art, and glamour this radiant human possesses and the stories she tells while doing so. Not many people have the magnetic energy this one does, and the Glamour Girls Guide to New Orleans would be vastly underwhelming without her additions!

Cheers, and happy glamouring!

xxxo,

The Darling