Charleston Fashion Week Night 1: A worldly kickoff

Image by Photos by Amanda Click

The first night of Charleston Fashion Week 2012 presented an array of unique styles, compositions and colors that showcased not only current global fashion trends but also local styles.

The show opened with a rousing performance by violinist Daniel D who played along to popular music favorites such as Michael Jackson and Adele. Immediately following the crowd was shown two shows by local retailers Poe Studio and Palm Avenue.

  • For images from the night, check out the slideshow at the top.

Poe Studio was a great crowd pleasing beginning to the shows with it's circus-themed children's collection and equally adorable models. Palm Avenue pleased the preps of the Holy City with lots of stripes and classic cuts. A highlight of the Palm Avenue show was an navy blue octopus print bikini, as well as another child model who wasn't afraid to strike her best pose for the photo pit. 

After the retailer's shows the break had already arrived and folks packed into the style lounge tent to peruse local vendors while sipping signature cocktails.

After everyone was refreshed it was time for the Emerging Designer Semifinalists to show samplings from their collections as they competed for a chance to show their full line on Saturday night at the Fashion Finale.

First up was Chesapeake Bay designer Mikasa La'Charles. Her collection started off strong with fantastic oriental prints and classic forms. Then herringbone, floral prints and leather all appeared at once and provided an unwelcomed distraction.

Next was New York based designer Samantha Michele Hyman. Hyman showcased a romantic fall collection teeming with knits, greys, and fabulous outerwear that could of been taken right off of the streets of London or Paris. Models were given black lips that added a touch of goth, and the overall collection showed a fierce attention to detail and timeless styles.

Local John's Island based duo Gil Tisdale and Dominique Verona followed Hyman with an eccentric showcase of futuristic metallic prints, ample amounts of tulle and geometric cuts. Their most memorable piece was the last look - a gorgeous blue, silver and black fringed cocktail dress.

Tsvetelina Gerasimova McAullife of Concord, NC followed with undoubtedly the strongest collection of the night's contestants. Her designs stayed on trend with this season's bright jewel tones and color blocked looks. The detailing was fantastic however there were silver chain accents on a few garments that looked more like an afterthought rather than a planned statement on the piece.

Last up of the Emgerging Designer contestants was Adrienne Antonson of Asheville, NC. Antonson's fall color theme of mustard and brown combined with knit bonnets and lots of draping definitely evoked a rustic woodland princess feeling.

After Antonson's show finished, the crowd was then prompted to vote via text for the People's Choice Award for the competition and then prepared to watch the featured designer of the evening, Emily Bargeron.

Bargeron hails from Savannah, GA and was an emerging designer contestant at CHSFW in 2009. Her collection for 2012 was a menswear collection, and was the first ever full menswear collection to walk down the runway at Charleston Fashion Week.

In a pre-show interview, Bargeron shared that she did not design the collection specifically for the Charleston man, but that she could see it on Charleston's best dressed or "On a rockstar at Coachella." Sharing that she was "Out of her comfot zone" in menswear, she went "heavy on the masculinity" in her collection.

Bargeron's collection was full of tribal prints, rich textures and bright colors she described as "So hipster, yet funky and fun." Inspired by world travel with hints of Bargeron's own small southern town upbringing, there were nice accents such as deer antler belt buckles and bullhorn accessories that brought the collection full circle.

And talk about testosterone - the last model capped off the night of shows by ripping off his shirt and sending the ladies of the audience into a frenzy.

Once the crowds had simmered focus returned to the night's round of the Emergining Design Competition. The People's Choice winner was given to locals Tisdale and Verona, while a bashful McAuliffe was given an advance to show her full collection at the finale on Saturday.

After the shows, attendees headed back to the style lounge or to the official after parties at the Cocktail Club and the Macintosh for cocktails. A few of us were left more famished than thirsty though, and took full advantage of the Roti Rolls and Diggity Doughnuts food trucks that were posted up in Marion Square and will be there every night except Saturday. 

For our full coverage of Charleston Fashion Week, be sure to check out our CHSFW landing page. For live coverage every night, be sure to follow along @TheDigitelExtra on Twitter for by the minute tweets and photos.