If you've ever skinned an alligator, you may know that the prehistoric-looking creatures are equipped with an armor of scales.
Designer Ashley Porter of Porter Lyons (631 Toulouse St., 800-585-0348; www.porterlyons.com) noticed the scales while making alligator skin belts in 2012.
"When I was trying to cut the skin, I kept hitting something hard," Porter says. "I soaked the hide in hydrogen peroxide overnight and what was left were these incredibly beautiful, organic bones that look like ridges or spikes."
This discovery inspired her to add a jewelry line of bone-inspired pieces to her fledgling belt collection. With the new, larger concept in mind, Porter sat down with her production manager to set a five-year plan. The goal: a brick-and-mortar shop of Porter's handcrafted jewelry and accessories.
Porter achieved that milestone a year early. The new store opens Oct. 22 in a fully renovated, 1,300-square-foot French Quarter building. The interior is clean and modern with a hint of edge. An alligator hide and two display cases custom made by a Bywater artist are nods to Porter's Louisiana-centric merchandise.
Ambient lighting, track lighting and LED lighting illuminate each display.
"Ambient lighting makes people look good," Porter says. "And track lighting is supposed to have no shadow of glare on the cases, allowing the LED to highlight the pieces directly."
Porter Lyons also houses a juice bar with Wi-Fi, a kitchen and a dog-friendly patio. She plans to host pop-up restaurants in the future. A grand opening party takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. There will be live music and freshly made juice cocktails.