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6:13 PM
This is my first time under the tents for Charleston Fashion Week, and I’m so excited to finally get a glimpse of what everyone’s been talking about. I sneak in the back while Ayoka gives the models a pep talk sprinkled with a little tough love before they take their final practice walks down the runway.

6:34 PM
The music starts up and the first models are strutting down the catwalk. They receive lots of advice from the end of the runway, most of which I don’t understand. “You have a dancer hand! Watch that hand!” “Stomp like you’re crushing potato chips!” ...Um, what?Clearly I do not speak “model” yet.

6:56 PM
Most of the jitters have passed, and the CFW models are starting to nail it. Their attitude and energy on the runway is palpable, but I’m curious what things look like backstage. After watching Zanee Noble and Tom Yu hit their poses, I sneak back to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

7:10 PM
The line of models stretches all the way out to the front of the tents, and everyone is relaxed and chatting about their shows... or as relaxed as you can be in 5 inch heels! I catch up with Patrick Darab and Gracinda Mayela before they walk. “How many shows are you in?” I ask. Patrick will walk in Billy Reid, Saks, and Charleston Formal Wear, and Gracinda will walk for two of the Emerging Design: Southeast shows, Shan Keith and Maude Couture.

7:30 PM
CFW ladies strike a pose for a group shot, and Chelsie Ravenell dives in front at the last second. “What shows are you walking in?” I ask again. “Biton, Saks, Billy Reid, Gown Boutique, and Shan Keith. I’m in five!” he laughs. It’s work hard, play hard in the life of a CFW model!

7:45 PM
Model Ghana rocks the runway with her signature walk, and applause breaks out. Nearly all of the models’ quirks have been worked out, so it’s time to practice the finale walks. The timing for the finales is a little rough at first, but with a little constructive criticism from the end of the catwalk, things are quickly nailed down.

7:55 PM
It’s time for a little extra practice for the Biton and Saks/Mary Norton shows, but the rest of the models are free to go. I’m starving and tired from standing so long, but there’s not one complaint from any of the stiletto-wearing models! Obviously I should stick to my place in the audience... in flats.

8:20 PM
Everything has been perfectly choreographed, and the final CFW 2009 rehearsal has come to a close. As we make our way out of the tents, I can’t help counting the hours until I’ll be back for the first show!

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