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5:49 PM
After a short detour/photo op at restaurant Rue de Jean, where all the servers have grown mustaches in honor of Charleston Fashion Week, I’m back under the tents for the final night of CFW 2009. I check in backstage where I catch up with some of the models and snag quick photos of Emerging Designer: Southeast finalists Lindsay Carter and Marysia Reeves. The atmosphere is more frantic and excited than nervous tonight... Until it suddenly starts all out pouring outside. Everyone stares anxiously up at the tent ceiling, and thankful we’re already inside!

6:20 PM
I tour the bar and lounge area, and the energy is palpable. Everyone is dressed to kill, excited for the shows, and ready to party at the Finale Gala. I catch up with a few guests, including Charleston magazine’s Advertising Art Director Zach Norris, who is sporting adorable red shorts, a green bow tie, and a blonde on each arm, and CFW model Chelsie Ravenell, who is sporting a dapper design of his own. “Are you going to enter next year’s Emerging Designer Contest?” I ask him. “Oh, absolutely!”

7:07 PM
Despite the horrible weather, the tent is packed. A number of guests are rocking a “I just got completely drenched” look, but they’re doing it with a glass of champagne and a smile, which is always in style. People are standing behind the rows of seats, and everyone is eagerly awaiting the finalists’ shows for the Emerging Design Competition: Southeast.

7:13 PM
The Alena Fede show begins. The music, attitude, and choreography of the show display evidence of her Russian heritage, but the garments are universally beautiful. Each piece is sophisticated and tailored, but with surprising, sexy details, such as a shirt with side slits, sheer shirts (and no bras! This is fashion, people!), and lots of lace. The show also featured a piece of man-candy (CFW model Clayton Brannon) who stood to the side observing and interacting with the models... until he strutted to the end of the runway and let out a primal yell, which scared the crap out of this particular photographer. It made a great picture though!

7:32 PM
Emerging Designer finalist Lindsay Carter’s Troubadour line is making its debut. The crowd is loving the punked-out look and the fun, theatrical air of the show. The garments all have a distinctive style and rocker-chic energy, but my favorite is the last look: a short, silver metallic dress. I do so love shiny things! The crowd gives a standing ovation, and it looks like the competition is going to be extremely difficult for the judges, who are scribbling like crazy.

7:47 PM
We’re on a break between shows, and I make my way out of the photo pit to check out the crowd. I catch up with Charleston Weddings Editor Melissa Bigner and Margo Kaufman Gallery’s Jeffery Rhodes, and everyone is relaxed and celebrating. Ayoka Lucas takes the catwalk to thank the CFW sponsors, but this time she’s accompanied always-on-the-move Editor in Chief of Charleston magazine, Darcy Shankland, who is rocking a chic, short blue dress with slit sleeves. The shows aren’t over yet, but it’s clear that Charleston Fashion Week 2009 has been a raging success!

8:23 PM
The last Emerging Designer show, for Marysia Reeves’ line Marysia Charleston, has just begun. The first look is absolutely fantastic: a model struts to the end of the runway is an adorable one-shoulder pink dress... that unzips along the side to reveal a bathing suit underneath! “Didn’t see that coming!” a fellow photographer says, snapping away. The collection ranges from clean, vintage-influenced swimsuits to those adorned with funky, fun tutus and a variety of distinctive, vividly hued short summer dresses. While every garment was gorgeous and every model was breathtaking, it was the precious child model that stole the show in black one piece with pink ruffles. Say it with me now, “Awww!” She receives standing ovation, and now let the judging begin!

8:39 PM
The shows are over, but the crowd is lingering before heading into the Finale Gala. I catch up with Tuesday night’s Emerging Designer semi-finalist Jonathan Moore to get his thoughts on tonight’s shows. He poses with a model wearing one of his garments and says, “Lindsay Carter’s show was fantastic. I loved it!” I bump into the unforgettable Trixie Kawasaki, and spot another Emerging Design semi-finalist, Swapnali Ahire. I ask her the same question and she tells me, “They were all great, but I loved Marysia’s show.” I excuse myself to sneak in some paparazzi style shots of the judges while they deliberate. I’m trying to eavesdrop, but no such luck!

8:48 PM
I snap a quick picture of Alena Fursova, and then we’re all off to the Finale Gala. I walk in and the first thing I see is a tray of more little foods, but I’m too impressed by this amazing tent to be distracted this time! The music is awesome, the crowd is gorgeous, and everyone’s ready to celebrate this awesome week. An adorable Cynthia Rowley takes the stage and announces the Emerging Designer: Southeast winner... Marysia Reeves! The tent erupts in applause and flashes from about a dozen cameras, and the party begins. Enough blogging for now, it’s time to DANCE! Congratulation to Marysia, all the Emerging Designers, the hardworking CFW staff, and the wonderful people of Charleston. This year’s CFW was bigger and better than ever; I can’t wait to see what 2010 has in store for us!

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