CFW Night 1: Tsvetelina Mcauliffe wins with a jewel of a show

Locals Tisdale & Verona take people's choice

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Hordes of girls in short dresses and impossibly high heels aren't a unique sight on King Street, but they are on a Tuesday at 5 p.m. When you see that, it can only mean one thing: It's Fashion Week. The event kicked off on Tuesday night with multiple runway shows under the tents at Marion Square.

Violinist Daniel D. started things off with a rousing performance (although one girl in the front row with her hands clamped over her ears didn't seem to think so), which was followed by a show featuring children's wear from Avondale's Poe Studio. The kids quickly won over the audience, setting the bar high for the following acts. Palm Avenue was next with a cute but predicable collection of bright dresses and swimwear.

After a lengthy intermission, it was finally time for the main portion of the night: the emerging designers. Mikasa La'Charles started things off with her collection, which she describes as Hollywood meets Navajo — an unlikely pairing, for sure, and the result was unsurprisingly a bit scattered. Her looks layered everything from lace to upholstery fabric to jet black pleather, reminding us of vintage car interiors. While a patchwork jumpsuit had us scratching our heads, one of the simplest looks — a gold brocade belted skirt suit — was our favorite look. La'Charles also wins for best designer walk down the runway — she owned it.

Samantha Michele Hyman was next with a dark collection with an emphasis on outerwear. Models sporting hats and dark lips showed off coats ranging from a dark trench to a swingy cape to a plaid number with a flared hem. Outfits like a grey wool sweater with a basic black A-line skirt left us wanting more. Overall the collection was dull and underwhelming.

Local design duo Gil Tisdale and Dominique Verona received big applause from the audience before their show even started, so it's no surprise they later earned the people's choice award. Their collection, intriguingly inspired by construction zones, featured bright pops of orange and blue, metallic fabrics, and sheer cutouts and overlays. One flowing orange half-skirt in particular caught our eye, as well as a few bolero/shrug-style pieces. The designers obviously had fun with the collection, and we had fun watching it.

Tsvetelina Gerasimova Mcauliffe followed up with our favorite show of the night. Using a range of rich jewel tones, her pieces started with classic, feminine shapes and kicked them up a notch with chains, sexy cut-outs, and contrasting linings. Favorite looks included a blue and turquoise dress with bold shoulders and a sequined back along with a lilac-colored kimono-style dress with Pucci-esque shoulders, though we could have done without the hardware on some of the pieces. Mcauliffe went on to be named semifinalist and she'll move on to the finals on Saturday.

Lastly, former Charlestonian Adrienne Antonson, now based in Asheville, showed her "prairie warrior" line. Local designer Heather Koonse sauntered down the runway to start things off in dirty-yellow cropped leggings with a brown half-skirt/cape hybrid (skape?). The sculptural, hand-dyed pieces reflected the designer's artistic background. Maybe it was the twee hats or handmade-looking shoes, but many of the looks had an almost elfin feel.

Featured designer Emily Bargeron, a former emerging designer, wrapped things up with her foray into menswear. The collection had a psychedelic cowboy feel with bright tribal-print pants and shorts with suspenders paired with a range of jackets and Western details like skull belt buckles and bone necklaces. The looks started to feel a bit repetitive about midway through the long show, but the final model regained everyone's attention by ripping off his shirt. And hey, it wouldn't be Fashion Week if some guy didn't rip off his shirt.

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