From the Charleston Gospel Choir to the Rock the Runway Competition, Charleston Fashion Week’s fourth night brought down the house
Caption: Fresh off walking Fashion Weeks in Milan, London, and Paris, last year’s Rock the Runway Model Competition winner Samuel Roberts returned home to help present this year’s winners Makenna Reeder and James Hong with CFW model coach Michelle Wood
Photograph by Ruta Elvikyte
Written by guest blogger Hunter Gardner
Friday, the fourth night of CFW, started off with a soulful rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” performed by the College of Charleston Gospel Choir. Gwynn’s of Mt. Pleasant kicked off the runway portion of the show with a black crisscross dress and dangling gold cross necklace reminiscent of Madonna’s better years. The crowd kept the applause rolling for local model Chelsea Ravenel, who walked the runway for the first time in nearly two years. V2V, another local retailer, kept up the pace with a collection that included plenty of white lace and pastels, accented by big stacks of gold bracelets that Cleopatra might have worn if she had gone to Studio 54.
Next up, the Emerging Designer Competition: East began with Katherine Schweitzer’s bold and futuristic line, which stood out for its use of neoprene, broad shoulders, and tassels, which had many of the judges craning their necks to whisper about. Siobhan Murphy, whose daydreams of English manors with “lots of demented elements” inspired her feminine collection of ’50s and ’60s shapes, included a local favorite—peplum dresses—as well as sharply-tailored brocade suits. The Fashion Panel of judges, including Fern Mallis, designers Christian Siriano and Brandon Sun, and New York’s Scene magazine editor in chief Peter Davis, must have been impressed as they would later select Murphy to compete in Saturday night’s finale.
After the break, Ayoka Lucas kicked off the second half of the show by introducing the judges for the Rock the Runway Competition, which auditioned more than 800 aspiring local models. Cynthia Bailey from The Real Housewives of Atlanta, hairstylist Dennis Stokely from American Idol, and international model scout Karen Lee Grybowski, along with last year’s male model Rock the Runway winner, Samuel Roberts, presided over the battle of the models. When Makeena Reeder, who won the female competition, strutted by, Stokely turned to Bailey and said, “That’s pretty good, what do you think?” And it was James Hong who won the male competition with a unanimous vote.
Then, the Emerging Designer Competition resumed with Hope Wallace of Savannah, who said she was first taught to sew by her grandmother. Inspired by the geometric lines of Art Deco architecture, Wallace’s collection of resortwear in yellows, blacks, whites, and grays exuded both boldness and whimsy, with influences from Pop Art as well as Marc Jacobs and Moschino. She would later earn the audience-selected "People’s Choice” award. Kendra Duplantier followed with her menswear-inspired collection for the androgynous female. She quoted Les Brown in her introduction video—“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great”—and the crowd responded with audible support. Duplantier’s collection fearlessly mixed unexpected combinations of fabrics and textures, including leather and angora cashmere, in her strong collection of separates and dresses. Next up, Roz Morris, who cited London and medieval armor as inspiration for her latest collection, used crepe de chine, velvet, and feathers for her simple silhouettes, adorning them with dramatic accessories from crystal necklaces and lace veils.
Concluding the runway portion of the night, featured designer Antonio Azzuolo showed his menswear line of white on white, black on black, and red floral patterns with Oriental overtones. All models wore sneakers from the Charleston shoe boutique, SNEAKER.
Before the big finale Saturday night, stop by the Belk tent to check out Moonshine cologne (if the name turns you off, the smell won’t) and Christian Siriano’s new line. Spoiler alert: the judges are expected bring back a previously eliminated designer for the Emerging Designer competition finale.
Stay dry and we'll see you under the tents!
For the schedule, click here. (http://charlestonmag.com/fashionweek/cfw-schedule)
For tickets, click here. (http://charlestonmag.com/fashionweektickets/about)