Jun 3, 2024 - Things to Do

Mariah Bencik's West London Boutique gets a bolder French sister at Le Marais

Mariah Bencik poses for a photo with one hand behind her ear in her new boutique.

Mariah Bencik opened Le Marais in May 2024 on Sophie B. Wright Place, just off Magazine Street. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

Mariah Bencik opened her second New Orleans store, a sibling to the popular West London Boutique, along Magazine Street just two weeks ago.

Why it matters: When it feels like more corporate shops are popping up within the bustling New Orleans shopping district, it's really cool to see an independent shopkeeper doing so well she can triple her square footage.

What she says: "People come to Magazine Street for [local business] specifically," Bencik tells Axios New Orleans. "When it starts turning into the mall, then it's not Magazine Street anymore."

  • "The answer is to support local businesses, because we cannot do it by ourselves."
  • "It doesn't always have to look like a sale. … That could be a great review. That could be a share. That could be a recommendation."

Flashback: Bencik is a Philadelphia native, but she started really making a name for herself in Las Vegas retail working in stores for Chanel, Anne Fontaine and Roberto Cavalli, her favorite designer.

  • "We couldn't be more worlds apart," Bencik says of Cavalli. "But I just couldn't understand how this person knew what I personally loved in garments and style and composition and cut and fabrication."
  • Her work in Las Vegas turned into opportunities to style for magazine shoots, but she kept hitting roadblocks on the way to opening her own store.
  • Eventually, she gave up on the idea and, ready for a bit of a break, moved to New Orleans in February 2017.
Mariah Bencik shuffles a rack of clothing in her boutique.
Mariah Bencik's first New Orleans store was West London Boutique. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

Yes, but: She wouldn't end up taking any break. By May, she'd opened West London Boutique in the 3900 block of Magazine Street.

  • "I've always touched and felt the client. I can dress the client. I can tie the bow. I can close the button, zip the zipper. That's all I want to do," Bencik says. "So, I wanted to do that. I did not want to be just online. … I wanted my own space."
  • She got it. By that fall, the boutique had taken off, despite having no built-in following or community in New Orleans.

Bencik's star got even brighter in 2023 when she appeared in the seventh season of "Queer Eye."

  • At that point, even though she'd been focused on the tangible experience at her shop, West London had online shopping too, which was a lifesaver during the pandemic.
  • With the show, it took off even more.
  • "We were shipping to Sweden, Switzerland. I mean, just all over the world," she says.
A wide view of Le Marais. Racks of clothing line the edges of the shop.
Le Marais offers bolder, edgier styles than what Bencik offers at West London Boutique. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

Zoom in: That also helped Bencik realize it was time to open a new shop.

  • The new space, Le Marais, is named for Bencik's favorite Paris neighborhood and features an edgier, bolder, riskier version of the chic prints, popping colors and dramatic styles on the racks of her first store.
  • "My goal is to bridge European couture to American culture," she says. "Let me do that for you."

If you go: West London Boutique and Le Marais are both open 11am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday.

  • West London is located at 3952 Magazine St., and Le Marais is at 1933 Sophie B. Wright Place.

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