by Erin Perkins
We can all retire our hair pieces and high heels as Charleston Fashion Week comes to an end. And what an end it was. Saturday’s show started off with the high energy group, the Missing Linkz, break-dancing to some vibrating beats and high-kicking into the audience. The team showed off some creative walks and flipped their way to a smiling applause.
The final night of CFW was charged with excitement as we waited to learn the winner of the emerging designer competition. The semi-finalists from throughout the week — Vartika Vikram, Hannah Goff, Tsvetelina Gerasimova McAuliffe and Angela Sum — showed us additional looks to compete for best emerging designer. This year, the judges also brought back a “save” with Adrienne Antonson. Though she did not win judge's choice on Tuesday night, the panel decided to bring her back on Saturday based on the outstanding merit of her collection.
Vikram’s original showing featured a very muted palette of ivory and gold, but her final collection boasted a bit more color and fancy. The audience exploded into applause as her final gown, a rose-colored ombre piece bursting with layers of tulle, sashayed down the runway.
Goff gave us more prints and impeccable tailoring as she did earlier in the week. Her layers of color prints and plastic, studded accessories once again wowed the audience.
After the perfectly hemmed collection of Goff, McAuliffe’s pieces looked a bit amateur. Poor construction and cheap fabrics left some audiences members comparing the line to “something I saw at Forever 21.”
Sum revitalized her snow white collection with new pieces that integrated more pops of color. Neon yellow mixed with crocheted white overlay gave the ethereal collection new life.
Antonson’s prairie warrior collection showed the audience a sustainable, creative collection. Though not the original choice for Tuesday night’s emerging designer competition, Antonson’s hand-made shoes and felted hats cinched her a seat in the finals.
While the judges deliberated on the winner, the audience watched collections from the Elle magazine-honored bridal designer Faith Thornburg and last year’s emerging designer winner Charlotte Hess. Thornburg showed a collection full of romance and fancy. Feathers, flower appliques, sheer fabrics and asymmetrical gowns were the epitome of any bride’s dream come true.
Returning designer Hess showed the audience once again what she excels in: innovative chunky knits made entirely wearable, but this year she brought a more political message. Hess sent her models down the runway with bare feet and faces smudged with dirt, many carrying baskets that would look more at home on a plantation than the runway. It wasn’t exactly subtle that Hess was remarking on the connections between cotton, slavery, and Charleston. The collection was expectantly gorgeous, but politics and the vaudevillian overtones of the final walk, complete with tambourines and dancing barefoot models, overshadowed the clothes.
The People’s Choice for the evening was Adrienne Antonson, while Hannah Goff clinched the title of top emerging designer. Audiences applauded all the designers before heading to the South Carolina Aquarium for the the official after party.