by Susan Cohen
Attending the second night of Charleston Fashion Week could be considered a bit of a challenge. Braving the rain, the cold, and the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations was no easy feat, but plenty of attendees managed to avoid pinches by wearing their fashionable green.
Wednesday was different from Tuesday; instead of exclusively showing original designers, the night featured collections from local and national stores. Unlike the often daring ideas of the Emerging Designers, these outfits were literally ready to wear. You can buy them today with very little effort. Though there were some pieces I’m sure I would have wanted, I couldn’t help but wonder how some people could pay $45 to see something they could check out (and even try on) on King Street. It was nice to see Sucker Jeans, a local company, but Banana Republic was surprisingly casual and Monkee’s of Daniel Island wasn’t too different from things you could see at the mall. Unfortunately, because these items weren’t specifically designed for CFW, they were less adventurous, less thematic, and much less conceptual than what we saw on Tuesday night.
But fear not. My skeptical attitude changed completely during the second half. Maybe it was the glass of champagne I had in me, but things got much more exciting after intermission. It started with Thera M, a boutique on Daniel Island. The line managed to feel cohesive, and I could not stop gushing about its many dresses. House of Sage continued to brighten my evening; their pieces and models dripped with an attitude unseen at other points in the night. The only weak spot may have been Palm Avenue, whose clothing didn’t really seem aimed at a 20-something. Which I am.
But of course, really, we were all there for Mychael Knight. I have personally been in love with him — and not just as a designer, but on a genuine romantic level, as I believe in my crazy, desperate head — since he smiled with those braces all those Project Runway seasons ago. Presenting his first collection since the TV show, Knight chose the theme “Carte Blanche”; he followed a number of solid black pieces with a number of solid white pieces. Though the colors were uniform, the textures were not, featuring houndstooth and (what I think was) snakeskin.
In the CFW program, it says Knight listens to (among others) Lady Gaga, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Fame Monster herself would be after his work. There were dramatic shoulders and sharp angles galore. The black was better than the white; much of the black could easily be worn at a cocktail party, while some of the white seemed less practical. His full-length, skin-tight black gown was easily one of the best, though it could be challenged for the top spot by a full-length white gown with a beautiful fanned detailing on the bust.
And Knight seemed as down-to-earth as he did on the show, leaning off the runway to kiss loved ones as he came out for applause.