On Tuesday we traveled up to Charleston for Charleston Fashion Week Opening Night. Despite the fact that it was St. Patrick’s Day (which, in Savannah, is…a big deal), we skipped out on the festivities to cheer on some of our new favorite designers. Siobhan and I had the distinct pleasure last month of interviewing the designers behind fashion line Point Line and Plane for our March issue. As semi-finalists in the Emerging Designer Competition, they would be showing a limited collection on the opening night of Charleston Fashion Week, with a chance to show the full collection on the final night. When they offered us the chance to attend their show, we jumped at it!
Charleston Fashion Week, now in its ninth year, is a combination of local boutique showcases, the Emerging Designer Competition, and featured designer shows, and spans five nights. Though the evening we attended was not without its hiccups, the event production was impressive. With an entire “fashion village” set up in tents in downtown Charleston’s Marion Square, the event is one that brings together lovers of fashion from across the Southeast, as well as special guests from the fashion industry. We’ve attended Savannah Fashion Week when it was held in past years (you can see our coverage from last year here!), but it was our first time at Charleston Fashion Week.
The event kicked off with a spectacular performance by violinist Daniel D., which was an unexpected treat, and Style Director Ayoka Lucas welcomed the crowd to the inaugural night of Charleston Fashion Week.
The runway show opened with two local boutiques, Bits of Lace, a lingerie store, with Shoes on King and Croghan’s Jewel Box, and women’s apparel shop Tres Carmen. We were especially excited to see Tres Carmen as stylist Mary Melissa Johnson borrowed clothes from them for our March Cher Spring feature, and our very own March cover girl, Maribeth, walked in their show.
The show continued with four emerging designers, all competing for a finalist spot. First up were sisters Sarah Hazel and Rachel Cole Cannon, of the line Hazel Cole.
We enjoyed Hazel Cole’s take on the southern woman, and their closing gown was one of the most stunning looks of the evening.
Next up was Amanda Dreesen. (Side note: as a native eastern North Carolinian, I love that both the Cannon sisters and Amanda have roots in the same area!)
Amanda Dreesen’s line, Dendinger, was sci-fi-inspired, and the effect was that of an elegant woman on a far-away planet or sometime in the distant future.
The third emerging designer to show was Richelle Valenzuela.
His Passaporte collection was a change of pace in the evening, as he was the only designer to show menswear. The clothes were reminiscent of The Hunger Games and other on-trend dystopian fiction, featuring a fascinating mix of texture and print that came together expertly.
Johanna Hickey and Orea Guthrie were the final emerging designers to show, and it was a treat to see the ideas they described to me in our interview brought to life.
The collection was androgynous, as described, and fully-realized with extraordinary custom-created and hand-dyed fabrics. I hope to have the chance in the future to study the pieces up-close and see all the detail I’m sure I missed from the audience!
The night’s winner was Richelle Valenzuela, who will be moving on to the final round Saturday and showing his full line. Congratulations to all the emerging designers who worked tirelessly to create collections!
The final two shows of the evening were featured designers, Anna Toth and Plante. Both 2014 Emerging Designer Competition co-winners brought strong collections to the 2015 opening night of Charleston Fashion Week.
Another North Carolina designer, Anna Toth’s Bow and Arrow Apparel line consisted of sustainable denim looks, with a buffalo plaid interlude I found charming.
I keep going back to the chambray rompers–rendered, like many of her looks, in a dark denim, it embodies the overall feel of the collection, which effortlessly blends casual and pulled-together for complete looks that remain chic, yet simple and unpretentious. And being in Charleston, I couldn’t help but be put in mind of artist Ann Hamilton’s piece Indigo Blue, and even more appreciative of all the designers who make a commitment to sustainability.
The final collection of the night came from sisters Leah and Rebecca Plante, also designers who incorporate sustainable practices into their business model.
Siobhan and I were both enamored of their floral cyanotype-inspired line, which seemed particularly appropriate as Anna Atkins‘ birthday was just March 16. Their line paired delicate blush shades with deep blues for a lovely and ethereal quality. I especially loved their styling, which incorporated fresh flowers into the models’ hair. Described as “urban garden romance,” the inspiration for the line, according to Plante’s website, comes from southern icons like kudzu, Spanish moss, and courtyard gardens. They are exactly the clothes I want to wear.
That’s it for our coverage of the opening night of Charleston Fashion Week! We look forward to following along as the week progresses, and another huge congratulations to all the talented designers!
Words by Bevin Valentine Jalbert / Images by Siobhan Egan