And Her Joyful New Orleans Style
Sandra Dartus has a style that is never boring. She embraces color with gusto and has been known to wrap a colorful feather boa around her neck as a finishing touch when the occasion calls for extra pizzazz.
“My style is naturally New Orleans,” the public relations, marketing and festival specialist says. “I have established a niche as someone who celebrates our city in all I do. Here people are colorful in many ways and I get to celebrate who and what I am every day. It is fun to live in a city where you can dress as bodacious as you wish. I am definitely a person who likes to wear a lot of color, so I tend to veer toward bright, fun clothing.”
Sandra’s joyful personality matches her style. “We live in a city where individuality is cheered and there is no better way to celebrate your joyous style than to participate in FestiGals, the only women-centric summer festival in New Orleans,” she says as she proudly claims the title of partnership liaison for the non-profit festival. FestiGals was founded by Diane Lyons in 2011 to connect, educate and inspire women through seminars and events that empower, showcase the culture of New Orleans and raise awareness and resources for targeted women’s causes.
“I connect and create partnerships, and I am the middle person who coordinates behind the scenes and makes ideas happen,” she says. “Each year we raise funds to help women in our community.”
Then she smiles as she speaks about the colorful Bodacious Bra for a Cause fashion show, where all the money raised goes directly to Breastoration and the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans. “Women come from across the country for FestiGals and they get to play ‘dress up’ and put on wigs, boas, crazy bustiers and decorated bras and be in a real second-line parade.” On a more serious note, she explains that this year’s Stiletto Stroll raised funds for the New Orleans Family Justice Center to help domestic violence survivors.
A native of New Orleans, Sandra lived on Congress Street in the 9th Ward as a young child. “We lived in half a double next to my dad’s parents,” she says. “My family was part of the migration across the Industrial Canal to Chalmette in the 1950s. They moved to have more land to raise their family.”
After high school, Sandra attended St. Bernard Community College and the University of New Orleans. She served as the first executive director of French Quarter Festivals. “It was all very exciting,” she says, as she proudly tells that Christmas New Orleans Style was started under her leadership and she was a founder of New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and Satchmo SummerFest.
After moving to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with her husband Alan Horowitz when he took early retirement, Sandra was lured back to New Orleans to be closer to her family.
“It’s fun to live in New Orleans,” she says. “Here I celebrate, connect and collect friends, contacts, and resources, and I’d like to continue to make positive things happen for people overall and women in particular. People and relationships are important to me. I work hard staying in touch with friends and contacts over the years. That’s been the most special part of my career. I’ve had the opportunity to work with journalists, musicians, chefs, creative people, educators and preservationists. So many people have enabled me to do what I do, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them. And for lagniappe, I can wear colorful clothes and have fun dressing up.”
Yes, adding a feather boa to an outfit for extra pizzazz is perfectly acceptable in New Orleans.