Fashion Forward South: Charleston
See style on stage in one of the South’s most historic cities during Charleston Fashion Week March 18-22.
Our focus on fashion across the South continues this month with a look at Charleston Fashion Week. Since the event’s founding in 2007, Charleston has become of the premier fashion weeks in the country. Style Director and visionary Ayoka Lucas, who hosts a weekly radio show called “Fashion Friday,” says it was time to celebrate fashion on a larger scale in the city.
“The fashion community was ready, and Charleston Magazine got behind the idea giving birth to Charleston Fashion Week,” she says. “This event quickly became a platform for emerging talent as well as a voice for local retailers and an outlet for fashion and beauty professionals. In a nutshell, it’s all about having a fashion week with national appeal in the South — Charleston specifically — and all the while maintain the integrity of the industry at the core of this event.”
More than 40 runway shows are presented during fashion week, with Emerging Designer and Rock The Runway Model competitions serving as major highlights. Featured designers for 2014 include Ghanian-born menswear designer Oberima Afriyie, who won last year’s Emerging Designer Competition for his line Afriyie Poku; David Hart of independent neckwear line David Hart & Co.; Hunter Bell, a South Carolina native who won the second season of NBC’s “Fashion Star” and has her own label; fur designer Brandon Sun; and New York trio Timo Weiland, whose fall 2014 line was inspired by a Cindy Sherman film.
Bridal is also a big part of Charleston Fashion Week, with runway shows featuring Mark Ingram — who plans to bring big-name stalwarts like Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera to the runway as well as newbies like Tara LaTour and Inbal Dror — up and coming North Carolina designer Whitney Deal, King Street shop owner and designer LulaKate, Gown Boutique of Charleston, Modern Trousseau, Daniel Island’s WHITE Couture and Emerging Bridal Designer winner Kendra Christine.
Last year’s fashion week economic impact on the city was close to $3 million, with over 7,500 guests in attendance. “Charleston is an easy draw, as it’s a beautiful destination and has a rich history of style,” says Lucas. “Along with being able to see what’s hot for the current season with local boutiques, inside the ‘fashion village’ you can shop, party, interact and get snapped by street-style cameras for five days in this gorgeous city. We always get excited about our Featured Designer shows that close each night of runway and look forward to seeing our high profile Fashion Panel, which holds some of the nation’s top industry leaders. New this year will be even more ways for our audience to interact.”
Charleston Fashion Week kicks off in Marion Square downtown on Tuesday, March 18, with runway shows, featured designer Afriyie Poku and a style lounge for shopping, and continues through March 22. Tickets range from $25-$175 and are available online.
Where to Shop
Hampden Clothing – Recognized by Vogue and Marie Claire magazines as one of the top boutiques in the country, Hampden blends edginess with Southern charm. Located on historic King Street, the shop’s 2,800-square-foot space features tin ceilings and crystal chandeliers as a backdrop for fashions from designers like Alexander Wang, rag & bone, Derek Lam, Thakoon and Timo Weiland. An extension of Hampden, JAMES accessories store is located next door.
RTW – A pioneer in the renewal of downtown, this women’s clothing specialty store on King Street features merchandise from around the world, including fashion week featured designer Brandon Sun.
Copper Penny – An upscale women’s boutique in Mount Pleasant, Copper Penny embodies Charleston’s cosmopolitan style with fashions from designers like Hunter Bell, Trina Turk, Tibi, French Connection and Paige Denim.
Ben Silver – Starting out as a maker of fine men’s overcoats, this King Street staple transitioned to jewelry button blazers, British-striped neckwear, shirting, shoes and socks. Now a mecca for sophisticated men, Ben Silver’s retail shop is the epitome of a fine haberdasher.
Photo credits, from top: Fashion week models by Chris Smith, street style by Angel David and fashion week grounds by Evan Laettner.
Read our first installment of Fashion Forward South with a focus on New Orleans here, and stay tuned for Nashville, coming up later this month.