While many have gone about their typical daily lives in the Holy City over the past week, for some it was a glamorous departure from the norm. Charleston magazine’s Charleston Fashion Week descended upon the city last Tuesday, with big white tents taking over Marion Square and girls in stilettos (more than usual, anyway) filling the streets. Though only in its third year, the event has become one of the city’s biggest attractions. Several of the shows sold out (including Saturday’s Emerging Designer Competition, which left many standing around the edges of the tent), and local hotels were filled with visiting fashionistas, models, and some minor celebrities.

Over the course of the week we rubbed elbows with politicians, national-level designers (Mychael Night, Cynthia Rowley, Mary Norton, Robert Siegel), musicians (G. Love, Arthur Brouthers), and one very tanned, smiley Las Vegas icon (Wayne Newton). We witnessed a runway proposal, a few stumbles, and some intense after-party dancing. We sat in the front row for every show and enjoyed fashions ranging from bridal gowns to the avant-garde/architectural (Amanda DeLeon) to the preppy/classic (Palm Avenue) to the organic/international (Seeking Indigo). And we have to give a shout-out to Kate Pittard’s fun iHeart show on Friday, which featured a Bond girl theme complete with guns, cards, and one bikini-clad model painted gold. Biton was another favorite, with its rocker-chic clothes and great model interaction — they tossed each other bitchy looks, high fives, and one hot kiss.


While we’re dropping names, let’s not forget Polish-born, locally-based designer Maria Dobrzanska Reeves (aka Marysia). She was named the top Emerging Designer in the southeast. Saturday night’s crowd and the judges loved her pretty, detailed swimsuits and her neon, Judy Jetson daywear. At the finale gala, she accepted a check for $1,000 while choking back tears. And for one last night, despite the fatigue, mud, and tornado warnings, the crowd celebrated Charleston’s unique fashion community. This isn’t New York. Marion Square is not Bryant Park. And that’s why we love it so much. Check out www.flickr.com/charlestoncitypaper for hundreds of front-row pictures from CFW 2009.

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