Artist Beckie Wilson describes her spirit animal as a peacock, and when she shows up for an interview with CUE, it's easy to see why. The New Orleans native sparkles with glittery blue nail polish, matching eyeliner, a giant topaz ring and a feathered fascinator of her own creation.
"I love how colorful peacocks are," she says. "I'm a very colorful person."
Wilson is a jill-of-all-trades in the art world. After earning a fine arts degree at Delgado Community College, she created oil and acrylic paintings, costumes, murals, jewelry and stone sculptures, did interior design, sold chandeliers and antiques and taught figure drawing at Ann T. Cooper's private studio.
"I probably jumped around a lot," Wilson says. "I have used so many different mediums."
In recent years, Wilson has become known for one project in particular: her fascinators. Fascinators originated as lace or crocheted head shawls worn by women in the late 19th century, but Wilson's versions have very little in common with their Victorian ancestors. Beaded compilations of goose, rooster, peacock and duck feathers, her fascinators look like headpieces worn by Las Vegas showgirls — and they turn nearly as many heads. When Wilson started incorporating fascinators into her everyday ensembles, she was continually stopped by curious strangers.
"People would ask me where I got them and want to buy them," Wilson says. "So I started spending lots of time making many of them."
Wilson launched her business simply: by walking through the French Quarter wearing her creations. "From the time I would go from one end of the square to another, they were all gone," Wilson says. "I'm known as the fascinator lady in the French Quarter."
Wilson now sells her designs through her Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/LynnBeckCollection) and at two French Quarter stores: Jewel's Art (905 Decatur St., 504-481-1462) and Love It (713 Bienville St., 504-523-7888). She also does custom fascinators in football team colors or for costume accessories. There are smaller fascinators and barrettes appropriate for children. Wilson recently made a matching set for a bride and groom having a voodoo-themed wedding.
"She wanted to have white feathers, but also the colors of her wedding," Wilson says. "I put a big display on her fiancee's top hat."
Wilson's fascinators range in price from $15 for a small feathered barrette to $200 for an elaborate fascinator. She also makes feathered purses for $100.
"I use high-quality feathers to make my fascinators," says Wilson, who finds artistic inspiration in nature. "That is what really brings out the beauty in them."
Though splashy feathered headpieces might not be part of everyday wear in most parts of the country, Wilson builds her daily outfits around her fascinators, which she describes as "wearable art."
"If there is a particular fascinator I want to wear, I'll pick out an outfit that will coordinate with it," she says. "I like that they make me feel so good. They are beautiful and they cheer people up. People are just attracted to them."