Sisters Erica Courtney and Cezanne Nails believe style is something that matters, and yet is often without intent. Photos by Robin May

They say that fashion you can buy, but style, well, style one must possess. It’s one of those quotes fashiony people say that sounds great. But, you wonder when it’s ever really applicable. Then you meet the sister set of Erica Courtney and Cezanne Nails and these are the kinds of quotes that come to mind.

Sisters Erica Courtney and Cezanne Nails

Born the Ingram sisters and graduates of high schools in Acadiana, the two have achieved much. Courtney is an award-winning jewelry designer who spends much time on the red carpet in her home base of Los Angeles. Nails is at the helm of Dockside Studio in Maurice and is also an artist. And both ooze a kind of unspeakable something that some may identify with words like glamorous or fabulous. But there is a depth to their style that seems nearly cheapened with these kinds of words. A richness in their style that comes from the souls of artists. Something that is, it seems, truly in their DNA.

“Our mother was so glamorous,” Courtney says. “She was an artist.”

RMay_121115_9059 lightenedHelyn Ingram Lamb was a painter, she did needlepoint, she drew, she designed clothes.

“Whatever she wanted to do she did,” Courtney says. “And whatever we wanted to do, she encouraged.”

Helyn encouraged her daughters, who are only a year and four months apart in age, in all things art.

“She would say, ‘If not you, who?’” Courtney recalls.RMay_121115_9064clipped

In fact it was this approach that brought a then 27-year-old Courtney into jewelry design. She had embellished sunglasses that were complimented about town. When asked who designed them, her mother piped in that Erica was a jewelry designer. And then it was so.
“She was the ruler of our universe,” Courtney says.

The three musketeers of mother and daughters lived in numerous places before landing in Lafayette. Among them New York, California, Pennsylvania, the Florida Keys. They traveled to far flung places. And their mother would bring them exotic wares from around the world. Hot pants from India. Ponchos from Peru. A wild belt from Morocco. Cezanne

“You had to be brave,” the sisters say in unison with a laugh standing in front of an extraordinary series of paintings by Nails during the Spanish Festival in New Iberia.

RMay_121115_9061_clippedJust the kind of proof that the sisters have surely seen the world. Proof that the lessons of their mother stuck. Both believe style is something that matters, and yet is often without intent.

“It’s not a conscious decision,” Nails says of style. “It just happens. I go with the flow.”
Courtney agrees. Everyone, she says, has personal style. “It’s whether you’re brave enough to live it.”


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