Cherchez la Femme
New Orleans Women
A photographic exploration of how New Orleans women have shaped the city
Contributions by Constance Adler, Karen Celestan, Alison Fensterstock, Kathy Finn, Helen Freund, Cheryl Gerber, Anne Gisleson, Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Karen Trahan Leathem, Katy Reckdahl, Melanie Warner Spencer, Sue Strachan, Kim Vaz-Deville, and Geraldine Wyckoff
New Orleans native Cheryl Gerber captures the vibrancy and diversity of New Orleans women in Cherchez la Femme: New Orleans Women. Inspired by the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC, Gerber’s book includes over two hundred photographs of the city’s most well-known women and the everyday women who make New Orleans so rich and diverse. Drawing from her own archives as well as new works, Gerber’s selection of photographs in Cherchez la Femme highlights the contributions of women to the city, making it one of the only photographic histories of modern New Orleans women.
Alongside Gerber’s photographs are twelve essays written by female writers about such women as Leah Chase, Irma Thomas, Mignon Faget, and Trixie Minx. Also featured are prominent groups of women that have made their mark on the city, like the Mardi Gras Indians, Baby Dolls, and the Krewe of Muses, among others. The book is divided into eleven chapters, each celebrating the women who add to New Orleans’s uniqueness, including entertainers, socialites, activists, musicians, chefs, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and burlesque artists.
I am so moved by this book. Cheryl Gerber has spent a lifetime capturing the visual of what makes New Orleans so unique. With this book and the words of the best female writers of our time, she has captured its heart and soul. It is about the power of New Orleans women from the Ursuline nuns to the joyful women marching in the streets today. For three hundred years women have made the difference. This work gives me great hope for the future.- Angela Hill, award-winning broadcast journalist
It’s hardly surprising that eclectic New Orleans would be home to some of the country’s most colorful, innovative women. But never before has a collection of this magnitude and creativity been assembled, showcasing what those of us born to New Orleans have always known, that this crazy city in a bend of the Mississippi River produces remarkable women, from community leaders to voodoo priestesses. Merci to photographer-author Cheryl Gerber for this overdue and beautiful homage.- Cheré Dastugue Coen, New Orleans–born journalist and author of Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana
Cherchez la Femme hits all the right notes in that ongoing ballad of New Orleans women and their stories.- Carolyn Kolb, author of New Orleans Memories: One Writer’s City