Artist Spotlight Series: Sue Sartor

This talent hardly needs introduction.

She is widely known for her fabulous frocks and kaftans as well as her abstract art.

Enjoy getting further acquainted with 

Sue Sartor

Monroe, Louisiana

What is your training? 

My training is a mix of school and life experiences. I studied art history and studio art at Tulane University in New Orleans. I worked for Calvin Klein in the Women’s Collection in the early 90s, it was really happening then and a super cool place to be.

What inspires you and your designs?

My clients inspire my designs. They want travel ready comfortable pieces.  They appreciate textiles, love texture, and are willing to play with color. The unique nature of the fabrics influence the designs. My textiles are hard to find hand-loom silks, satins, and hand-stamped natural cottons, so they lend themselves to really special statement making garments and moments. 

 What is your favorite piece?

The Paloma pieced and piped tiered dress has been such fun! Choosing the wood blocks and color combinations, pipe color is artful and interesting. It never gets boring. The design has limitless variants and so there is much room to create interesting palettes. 

I also love the over dramatized SS hand dyed silk kaftans that are fully embroidered out in a dianthus vine embroidery. I did one for a fashion challenge with Natalie Bloomingdale founder of the SIL X The Future Perfect. It got in their exquisite capsule line and was shot for They had a show that featured the holiday capsule line. It was held at Elvis Presley’s previous home in the Troussdale Estates in LA which then became Casa Perfect. It was VERY chic and super fun! 

How has your area influenced your work?

Being from the Northeast and meeting my husband at Tulane, and settling with our family in North Louisiana, has made me a more soulful person. I was already very artsy and a lover of the arts and all things visual, but there is something about Louisiana and in particular, New Orleans, that just captures your heart and leads you on a more soulful journey. The lushness of Louisiana, the flora and fauna… it all is a major part of the textiles in my work. The feeling of atmosphere also comes through in my artwork too, which I call “atmospheric scapes”.  It’s amazing how our environment impacts all that we do and feel. 

What is your favorite restaurant?

Dining out is a huge part of any travel experience for us. We love to cook and especially now with everything being closed, we’ve cooked homemade pasta, learned how to make sweet potato gnocchi with sage brown butter, made our own smoked brisket fajitas with home made corn and flour tortillas & agave nectar fresh squeezed margaritas – insanely yum…. always making gumbos etc….It’s time for a fast ~~for sure!  

When we get back to New Orleans (and after the fast LOL), top of the list is a boozy long, laugh filled & delicious lunch at Galatoires that starts with milk punch

with pommes soufflé ~ puffed potatoes with bernaise, fried eggplant with powdered sugar, and their signature shrimp remoulade…and then we make our way to a light white french Pouligny Montrachet, sautéed trout with lump crab, creamed spinach….sometimes we will end with flaming Café brulot- a flaming coffee with cognac oranges, lemons, cloves, cinnamon ~ smells fabulous ~  in honor of my husband’s father…Pop, who used to say ”he would dig his grave with his fork”…. the ultimate bon vivant who knew the NOLA culinary scene well…..Brunch at Brennan’s in a pretty banquet under a green trellis painted wall with a dreamy pastel mural of vintage french postcards of Carnival scenes (details are never lost on me;)),

and either Saffron (best elevated Indian you’ll ever have, best craft cocktails- get the Rye See Stars!) or Saba ~ takes Israeli and small plates to an entirely new level! We always pick up sweet treats to take home so we zip by Beth Biundo’s fantastic Bakery or La Boulangerie – both are to die for!!!

What is your favorite cocktail?

I’m a mixologist at heart, love herbs and adore home made simple syrup. I love fun takes on the French 75.

If there is a fundraiser or event, I am making a specialty cocktail for it!! When in Nola,  a Jefferson’s Bourbon old fashioned with gorgeous Luxardo cherries is hard to pass up. Drinks depend on the mood. For day to day (yes this Pandemic thing does make cocktail hour more frequent) I’d have to say my go to drink is just a really yummy heavy Napa Cab or french Bordeaux. Some day I will make it to Bordeaux for the grape stomp, bucket list.

How do you balance personal life and work?

This is my greatest challenge right now. With my artisans working ok the other side of the world while I’m supposed to be sleeping, I’m up a lot. I let the business bleed into every hour of personal time. I love it so much that it’s hard to create boundaries. I know I need to and I am working on that. Owning your own business and being a creative really gets you revved up!I waited to start my business until my kids were grown, so now I feel like I am really catching up! It’s really exciting energizing and FUN.  At least I averted a mid life crisis, maybe? 

Dream trip?

I’m always dreaming of being somewhere lush and tropical. I love Eleuthera and Harbour Island. The people are so beautiful.

Right now, I’m wanting to get Marrakech, Morocco for inspiration and fabric sourcing and travel there by way of France. Paris always has my heart. I’ve got to get back to the Marché Aux Puces with no deadlines or timeframes …. just meander and take in all the visual delight.  I’m dying to take my husband to London. He has never been and appreciates art, architecture and history so so much, it would be an amazing trip! Oh and back to France, I must get back to Cap Ferrat and stay at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Must.

Dream commission / person to dress?

I’m dying to get my kaftans on Amanda Lindroth whose style I adore & Oprah of-course!

Kate Middleton would be incredible, so classic and chic.

I’ll go ahead and dream for Aerin Lauder too. She is just so cool and beautiful – taste maker extraordinaire.

All 4 of those women are brilliant, chic and have a wonderful sense of unique style. 

Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

A pretty bottle of wine with herbs from the garden tied w organza or taffeta ribbon,  any diptyque candle, my Placidity home spray or candle I make with organic oils and natural soy ~ eucalyptus, vetiver, geranium, lavender … it makes everything smell like a spa… I love things to be welcoming and relaxing. 

Who is your style icon?

I feel that each woman possesses her own distinct style and I make clothes for women to be able to style and interpret it their own way.

I was fortunate to work with Carolyn Besette Kennedy while at Calvin Women’s Collection.

Much like Jackie, she embodied style… she had her own unique look that was so timeless and beautiful. She was a genuine kind person, beyond talented. So, I consider Jackie and Carolyn Icons. 

 What is your most treasured possession?

If pets were part of the answer, I’d go another direction. Animals enrich our lives so much. We’ve lost our dear dog recently and are about to find a new fur baby to love.  It’s a huge void not having a dog right now.

I love things that have meaning and tell a story. So I treasure much of the art in our home. We have a triptych called “ I Promise Love” by Bettina Werner. It is salt and resin with pigment on wood. I got it when I worked in New York for the Marisa Del Re Gallery. I met her when the gallery went to the South of France for the Sculpture Biennale in Monte Carlo. She was so kind and amazingly talented.

If I was to say one thing, it would be my grandmother’s gold charm bracelet because it is layered with history and meaning, and each charm tells a story. 

What are you reading?

I always keep a couple of books on my bedside table that are reminders of the importance of grace, hope and love. ”The Book of Joy” by the His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of my favorites.  

I think appreciating each others view points and having grace for everyone is important for the world to be the best it can be. A book a recently picked up because it was recommended by Audrey Williams, who was a guest mentor at this years Southern Coterie Summit for the entrepreneurial South,  is “Sacred Rest” by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith. It’s about taking the time to set boundaries and renew energy.

What are you listening to?

We just finished listening to wwoz in New Orleans “Jazz Festing in Place.“ It was so sad not to make our trek to Jazz Fest this year.  

My husband is a surgeon and a musician, so music is big in our household. We listen to different music for different things. We “hang out” to mellow fun soul music, cook a lot to Slim Harpo, Louis Jordan, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Otis Redding, soul classics & rhythm and blues.  Our dating years were filled with Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clark. If I’m riding in the car, it is James Taylor time for me. I love JT… brings me back to childhood and summers on Cape Cod. My daughters and I make play lists of all sorts of songs and give them names based on the mood~ ”ooey gooey play list”, ”don’t fence me in play list”…. we are silly but they are GOOD playlists and we love to share! Our latest obsession is the show Songland. It’s so good and artists compete with their original music. The talent is so amazing.

What are your favorite blogs / publications?

I’m a fan of Veranda, Garden and Gun, Southern Living, Flower Magazine, Architectural Digest, Dwell, Deaprtures, Vogue… And more…I love magazines! I really want to start listening to more pod casts and reading blogs. I recently listened to Paloma Contreras’s new podcast on design, it’s so inspiring. Learning how others get inspiration makes me want to keep creating! It’s infectious. Energy begets energy. I’ve learned in this journey there are so many creatives out there that are willing to share their knowledge and provide encouragement. 

Here is a look at her abstract work you can follow on her website and HERE

Here are a look at the amazing Sue Sartor dresses.  See more HERE.



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