• Austin Nelson

Thursday night at Charleston Fashion Week managed to sum up the Holy City’s style scene pretty neatly: some talented designers, some fashion-forward stores, and a few boring places where the wealthy vacationers shop.

After an energizing introduction from violinist Daniel Davis (who played Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”), the night kicked off with a show from Eden Boheme. The feminine shapes and romantic details were reminiscent of owner Anna Lassiter’s show earlier this week, with a more structured, 1950s flair. Ladylike hats, glamorous fabrics, and lots of ruffles made this an altogether pretty show.

Then Tommy Bahama came out with no doubt the worst show thus far — thank goodness we were expecting it. Uninspired, bland resort-wear had the models looking as bored as the audience. Even the music was putting us to sleep.

Copper Penny reflected Charleston’s strong sorority girl/yacht club contingent with a predictable assortment of bright, trendy, and classic dresses. After the intermission when Pearl took the stage, we had a major case of deja vu — more cocktail dresses. Pretty stuff, but pretty forgettable, too. Except for some Dynasty-esque makeup.

  • Austin Nelson

Hampden started their show with a stunning Yigal Azrouel dress (which City Paper contributor Maggie Winterfeldt had worn the night before). The show continued to be on-trend and bold with modern shapes and unexpected use of fabrics like jersey and soft leather. Many of the pieces incorporated unique draping across the back and shoulders, one of our favorite trends we’ve spotted thus far. The models’ thick black and blue eyeshadow added to the overall rocker feel of the show.

Before the intermission, the top 10 male and female models strutted their stuff down the runway for the judges. While at first we thought the Rock the Runway Competition a bit gimmicky, it added a much-needed dose of energy to the night. At the end of the show, Antwuan Whitney and Caroline DeBruhl were named the winners. After all their hard (and unpaid!) work, we’re glad the models got some recognition.

Seeking Indigo presented a collection of globally inspired maxi dresses and classic minis in unforgiving fabric. The shapes — if there were any — were mostly bland, but the fabrics were beautiful and the beaded trimming on many of the pieces set them apart.

  • Austin Nelson

Mary Porter brought up the caboose with her line of couture gowns. Though the models seemed to be moving in slow motion to the beat of the Moulin Rouge-esque soundtrack, it was one of our favorite shows of the evening thanks to the sheer drama of it all. Grace Kelly, Jackie O., and the original Barbie were brought to mind as the models sauntered down the runway in gowns created from glamorous sparkly fabrics, adorned with accessories like birdcage veils and giant feathers.

And while we enjoyed Mary’s show, it was really only a hint of what the night was missing — energy, creativity, and originality. Certainly, Thursday night was focused on Charleston’s retail world, which is a valuable part of the fashion community, but watching the shows was little different from browsing through the stores themselves. Thinking back to some of last year’s most memorable shows (iHeart, Biton, Mary Norton/Saks) we found ourselves craving just a little more … fun.

Here’s hoping the rest of the week will deliver more excitement.

Check out Austin Nelson’s slideshow from the night below, and see our Flickr page for even more.

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