Charleston Fashion Week is a week long fashion celebration that Ayoka Lucas started in Charleston, South Carolina over seven years ago. The fashion event runs from a Tuesday through a Saturday and this year it ran from March 19th-March 23rd.
Charleston Fashion Week has brought a growing crowd of fashionistas and celebrities alike over the years. There is always a panel of judges with guest celebrities who vote on the Emerging Designer Competition: East. The grand prize winner wins $5,000 cash, $10,000 online marketing and promotional package from F22 Designs, mentoring opportunity with fashion industry leaders during CFW, Professional look-book images of the designer’s Fall 2013 collection by J. Balliet, Runway show at Charleston Fashion Week 2014 , trade show in New York City in 2013, BERNINA sewing machine compliments of Fashion Fabrics and REEDS Jewelers pendant (valued at $995). A pretty nice package to win as an emerging designer!
The competition works like this: each night from Tuesday through Friday, the audience can vote for their favorite designer showing each night and at the end of the show each night, there is one PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD winner who wins $250 and moves onto the Saturday finale show to compete for the winner of the Emerging Designer contest. Then, Saturday night’s finale show has all the winners from the people’s choice during the week where the judges featured pick the grand prize winner. This year’s judges included; Fern Mallis, the creator of New York Fashion Week ; Sarah Parrott, Semifinalist for CFW 2011 Emerging Designer Competition and who has been on NBC’s The Fashion Star and has her own collection ; Nikki Poulous who is another Fashion Star contestant and fashion designer ; Cynthia Rowley, the famed New York City fashion designer ; Fabulous Christian Siriano who was on Project Runway and presents his collections to New York and Paris every year; Cator Sparks who is a designer and writer for Elle Décor and T Magazine ; Brandon Sun who attended Parsons in New York City and worked for J.Mendel and now handles the fur division of Oscar De La Renta and just present at NYFW. Last but not least, there is stylist to the starts- Robert Verdi. The Front Row panel also included, Peter Davis (Editor in Chief of SCENE magazine), Arlene Goldstein (VP of Belk and VP for Trend Merchandising for SAKS), Johnson Hartig (designer in LA and winner of CFDA and Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2004), Ashanti (superstar and famous singer, now on Army Wives) and Antonio Azzuolo (famed fashion designer, has worked for top names and been creative design director for Ralph Lauren’s purple and black label).
There is always a model competition too called, “Rock the Runway” and the winner receives $1,000 cash, gifts from local Charleston cosmetic shops and Paul Mitchell, round trip flight to NYC, mentoring with top leaders of model industry, composite cards photographed by Charlotte Elizabeth and a $5,000 Michael Kors watch from REEDS Jewelers.
Back to the winner of the Emerging Designer competition: there were some really talented designers who participated but the overall winner of Saturday night’s finale show was Afriyie Poku. I was so thrilled to see his tailored blazers and menswear pieces. He received a serious standing ovation and I was there to stand with the crowd and applaud. He was fantastic! Check out his website at: www.oberimaafriyie.com and be on the look out for him on the runway at CFW in 2014!
I also got an opportunity with Carolina Style Magazine on Thursday to interview Arlene Goldstein, Cynthia Rowley and two of the winners of Belk’s southern designer showcase. It was a fabulous experience thanks to the Publisher, Bridgette and Fashion Editor, Marie Cordella. I talked with them all about fashion in today’s society, how they feel about Belk’s collections and the 125th Anniversary of Belk! One of the jewelry designers that won, Kathleen Murphy was so sweet and down to earth and she responded with, “I mean, when I first found out I won, I asked, Did no one else enter?!” and “Do people really like my stuff?!”. Yes, Kathleen, people really do love your stuff! Expect to see her stuff along with the other winners out in Belk stores early April 2013.
Arlene Goldstein is the sweetest and funniest person in the industry I have ever met. Her resume is fantastic and it matches her charm and wit. We ended up talking for about 35 minutes prior to interviewing, she told me about her daughters and her brother and how close their family is and how important it is to have that. She was such a delight!
Before interviewing Cynthia Rowley, I was dying inside a little. I love her pieces and as a fashion design student, I wanted to scream but don’t worry, I contained myself. She told me how she looks to cultures and things outside the box to get her inspiration from. Check out her collaboration with Belk in stores!