It seems like just yesterday that tents took over Marion Square for Wine + Food, but with it being March a.k.a. festival month, the tents went up once again, marking the eighth Charleston Fashion Week. And this year, Marion Square was transformed into a fashion village, as Ayoka Lucas called it. The Style Lounge is back with places to sit and chat as well as shop and sip on drinks. But there’s also two more tents — a VIP lounge sponsored by Gwynn’s and the Belk tent, with more goods to browse.
But we were really there for the fashion, and the cold weather put a damper on that. Instead of milling around outside, guests went straight into one of the tents to find some warmth, be it from heat lamps or booze. We noticed many ladies didn’t dress for the weather. It was as if they had planned what they were going to wear and went with it, despite the drastic drop in temperature. We saw beautiful sundresses in pastels, nude legs with no coats or tights, and sleeveless ladies baring their arms. We get that sometimes you suffer for fashion, but we also believe that you don’t have to go through unnecessary punishment by not dressing for the weather.
We were relieved when we saw that not all Fashion Week attendees had missed the cold front memo. Cute jackets accessorized wide-legged pants; textured tights provided legs a shield from the cool wind. And just because the weather was dreary didn’t mean the color palette was. Bright cobalt blues were the colors of the evening. And one fashionista donned a gorgeous orange jacket.
But enough about the event-goers, CFW is all about the designers, and on opening night, they pulled out some good ones. The evening started with Bits of Lace, Bob Ellis Shoes, and Croghan’s Jewel Box. The show was what you’d expect it to be coming from a lingerie store — complete with models striking Victoria’s Secret-like poses at the end of the runway. Little kids stole the show as they marched down the runway with their robed model “mamas,” but it was the gentlemen who got the loudest cheers. Walking in boxers with country names emblazoned on them, the World Cup theme was hard to miss, particularly since some even had soccer socks and cleats on to really hammer the message home.
Next up was Tres Carmen Boutique, who showed flirty resort wore. We fell in love with a black jumpsuit with sheer detailing and an off-white romper with green belt. It was a very wearable collection.
Local favorite JLINSnider stole the show for us with her earthy meets tribal with a dash of sparkly sassafras. Inspired by the ’60s and ’70s, the designer sent down flowing dresses with an ode to Mother Nature that you could see being worn at a modern Woodstock. She also threw in an emerald green sparkly maxi skirt and closed the show with a sheer maxi dress with a web-like back and bead work that covered in all the right places.
Before intermission, two of the emerging designers presented their 10-piece collections. Zachary Howell was inspired by “dark moods,” and he took that inspiration where you would expect, sending down lots of black and leather and heavy materials. The design of them was gorgeous and thought-provoking, with one long black dress reminiscent of a modern day Catherine Earnshaw. Leah and Rebecca Plante were up next with their flowy and romantic designs. They may sound simple, but the detailing and tailoring was so spot on that the designs were elevated to another level. The dresses floated behind the models as they marched down the catwalk.
After intermission, Anna Toth took her turn on the runway with designs influenced by the hardworking American. Different shades of denim — from chambray to dark as night — were crafted into menswear inspired shirts and perfectly fitting skinny jeans. The fourth emerging designer, Terese Brown, followed with her classic designs with an edgy twist. She added feminine touches with floral prints but paired them with structured mini skirts to make sure they weren’t too girly. We also appreciated Brown’s pop of color, with chartreuse making a couple of appearances throughout the collection.
The final emerging designer, Tenneal McNair, showed a feminine collection that worshipped a woman’s body. Case in point: the purple jumpsuit with a low-cut back that oozed an elegant sexiness because of its impeccable cut and fit.
While the judges tallied the votes for People’s Choice winner and for the emerging designer who would go on to the finale, last year’s winner Afriyie Poku showed his designs under his new label, Oberima Afriyie. The line featured well tailored jackets and shirts worn with skinny pants — some were very skinny. The models exuded an old-world sexiness in their modernized collection, which we didn’t mind.
Finally, the winners were announced, and the Plante sisters took home both crowns.