SCENE: Emerging Designer Semifinalists

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Just got back from the first night of Charleston Fashion Week 2009. The tents are glam, the stage is solid (no dangerous fabric center), and everyone's psyched for the next four nights of great fashion. In one of the most anticipated nights of the week, six of the Emerging Designer Competition semifinalists presented their shows. Some of the designers were better than others, but they were all impressive - after seeing what they did, we just can't wait to see the finalists on Sunday night. (Go straight to the flickr page with my pics.)

Amanda DeLeon, looking super-chic with her platinum hair and dramatic eye makeup, gave the very first show. Her's was inspired by a song called "Digital Sea" - tranquil and modern. We loved the sheer fabrics, the crazy shapes, and the electric blue matchstick pants. But why didn't you walk the runway after your show, Amanda? We loved it. Pic at left.

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Caroline Baker was next (right). After working for LulaKate for three years, she's breaking out to start her own line. Her's was one of my favorites: lots of pretty cut-outs, feathers, backless dresses, and luxurious gowns with carefree hair. One of my favorite pieces of the night was her burnished gold gown with red underlay and peacock feathers. Gorgeous.

Georgia girl Emily Bargeron next showed her '70s vintage-inspired line (below). The flower child models sported peace signs, carried signs ("Green is Glam"), and wore big, bold jewelry. The clothes were a patchwork of different fabrics and patterns. Reminiscent of Megan Waldrep's super-fun line last year. (We heard the two are friends and they often collaborate.)

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We got our first male in the mix with Jonathan Nigel Moore's detail-oriented collection. Nearly every piece featured a nice color-block detail. Lots of greys, violets, and loose fits. And lots of ruffles. It made us think of Target for some reason. Izaak Mizrahi perhaps?

Up next was Shan Keith, another big fave. His "gardens to garment"-themed line was just what you'd expect, feminine, pretty, with lots of floral prints. Many of the pieces were made from bold, jewel-tone fabrics, and he used a lot of bubble hems. We also got our first male models of the night, though their cardigan and pants combos were nothing to shout about.

Swapnali Ahire finished out Night Uno with probably the most innovative show of the evening, with jersey knit, leather, and various shades of denim coming together with zippers - lots of zippers. Several pieces made me think "garbage bag chic." In a good way.

Councilman Tim Mallard sat beside us and gave a running commentary on the evening's fashions. A baby across the runway seemed entranced by the night's spectacle. Ayoka Lucas looked fabulous when she took the stage to thank everyone involved. And the after-party at Chai's was packed with plenty of beautiful people and fashiony movers and shakers.

Continue checking back for our nightly coverage. Don't forget to follow our Fashion Week tweets as well!

Here are some more photos by Kevin Hoth:

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