Charleston Fashion Week gives me goosebumps. It’s a beautiful event that brings a lovely variety of talented people together under a few tents in Marion Square every March. Now, throw in bars filled with beautiful concocted cocktails, stylish outfits and flair, and you will understand why this southern fashion week has exploded into one of the biggest fashion shows on the East Coast. Charleston Fashion Week is more than just socializing and dressing up, it is about seeing what talented people have to offer in the world of fashion design and giving us a new perspective on dressing.
The runway started with local retailers and the first one to show was Bits of Lace Lingerie. No surprise here, the Bits of Lace show was gorgeous in it’s use of beautiful silk, lace and chiffon robes layered over matching sets of colorful lace bras and panties. The ladies were also wearing amazing jewels from Croghan’s and trendy shoes from Shoes on King. The gorgeous lingerie was proceeded by the line of men’s boxer briefs called SAXX. Perfectly sculpted men strutted in these adorable fitted boxer briefs (you could hear the gasps!) It was a gorgeous show!
Their show was immediately followed by summery looks from Trés Carmen Boutique. The outfits presented by Trés Carmen had us fashionistas craving a Mediterranean vacation by the sea! Gorgeous dresses, big hats, strappy wedges, cute culottes and adorable crop tops were the name of the gang.
Amanda Dreesen was the first designer on stage to present her whimsical clothing line. This North Carolina designer is self-taught and often finds her vision in a fantastical character that she usually has created in her mind and brings to life with an assortment of interesting fabric choices. For this collection, she chose to use browns, blacks and blue, wool/silk blends with a touch of boucle, faux leather, succulent blue sequins and yards of organza.
The next designers were two sisters, also from North Carolina, Sarah Cannon and Rachel Cannon with their label being named Hazel Cole Design, after their middle names. The duo make for an interesting pair, being raised in a design family (their parents are architects), they have been around design since their childhood. Their collection was one of my favorites from the night with this remarkable juxtaposition of Glamour meets Tomboy Russian 1940’s clothing line. The collection featured tartan printed onto silks and mixing of materials with leather, faux fur, and wool, thus creating an utterly stunning collection with looks that make me wish it was cold just so I could rock some of their pieces!
The second to last designer was Johanna Hickey & Orea Guthrie, their women’s wear line, “Point Line and Plane” is a very artistically approached and conscious clothing line. The duo describes their methods to be focused on the art of design using natural fibers and eco-friendly cotton, which is dyed by hand. In return, this makes for a very simplistic collection with a dose of a consciousness in regards to the creation of the garment. Their prints were beyond belief with touches of marbling and almost a watercolor feel to the dresses. I would wear everything they sent down the runway!
Then, menswear designer, Richelle Valenzuela, and also tonight’s Emerging Designer winner, took the stage! He has such an eye for detail and a hand for craftsmanship. His collection defined the word craftsmanship in fashion design with high necklines, buttons and the play on the sporty, but sophiscated customer. I was sold the minute the models turned and you saw the pleating in the back of one of his jackets! Just the look of his coats and structured jackets, this menswear designer can sew! He said he was inspired from scuba gear but decided to use fabrics like mesh and Melton wool to create a unique dynamic that paid off in the end. You rock Richelle! You got my vote!
Featured Designer and Emerging Designer Competition Alumni, Anna Toth, then presented her use of beautiful denims and cottons made within the United States to show us how to wear adorable blue jean rompers and jumpsuits. One of my favorite looks was a stunning black and red plaid dress that was fitted on top with a full skirt attached. Loved the All-American casual and wearable looks she presented tonight.
Plante Clothing was also a featured designer from last year (like Anna Toth) and showcased their usual sense of light and airy-ness to the Charleston crowd. Bringing in their native Charleston roots with a touch of Brooklyn (where they currently reside) into the play of fit and flare pleated dresses and pieces you could wear year round in Charleston. Their collection was perfectly flirty and feminine!
Charleston Fashion Week Day 1 was a success with many talented faces and names to be recognized. Can’t wait for Day 2 to start! See you under the tents!
Photos: Shauntae Young of Amore Photography