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Charleston Fashion Week: Bridal Fashion, Fun and High Theater

Charleston Fashion Week is turning into a phenomenon with sponsors like JVT (Jewelry Television, on cable stations everywhere) and major designers in attendance. As further proof that this event has become more than just a local runway show, this year (March, 2015), the lead fashion editor for InStyle Magazine visited for the day, taking in Charleston Fashion week’s iconic Saturday Spring Bridal Show finale.

Charleston’s annual weeklong homage to style attracts large crowds. This year, there were more than 7,500 attendees, with the five-day event boosting the local economy by an estimated $3.5 million. In addition to nightly runway shows, the event has added a party scene that takes full advantage of the many new restaurants and clubs that have opened recently along upper King Street, within walking distance of downtown Charleston’s Marion Square, where the show takes place.

Even the rain earlier in the week didn’t dampen fashion sprits as designers, retailers (like Belk, which has a big presence at the show), and visitors enjoyed runway events that, in addition to fashion, began with light shows that could have rivaled a Broadway production!

Although the early part of the week is dedicated to showcasing emerging young designers or trunk shows for many of the local bridal shops, the Saturday Spring Bridal Show featured designers such as Rachel Gordon & Birdsong, Katherine McDonald (the designer and owner of Kate McDonald and LulaKate), Callie Tein (owner and designer of Modern Trousseau), Liancarlo, Pronovias Atelier, Amsale, and many more.

f8 Photo Studio attended the show with Southern Bride & Groom to capture all the fabulous trends on camera.Charleston Fashion Week Birdsong and Modern Trousseau

Designers (above left to right): One Love by Rachel Gordon & Birdsong and Modern Trousseau

The styles on display at Saturday morning’s bridal show ranged from mini dress and jumpsuit to ballgowns and long trains like the Hayley Paige tulle dress with beaded top. So many different styles were on view it might have been hard to spot a theme, but there were a few worth noting.

Charleston Fashion Week Hailey Paige and Modern TrousseauDesigners (above left to right): Hayley Paige and Modern Trousseau

First, although most of the gowns featured white and ivory, several veered far from traditional bridal gown colors. Gold metallic, for example, showed up in several collections. One of the more beautiful and romantic was the retro gold halter gown from Kate McDonald & LulaKate.Charleston Fashion Week Kate McDonald gold gownKate McDonald gold halter

Designer (above): Kate McDonald & LulaKate

There was also a moonstone metallic lace jumpsuit from Kate McDonald & LulaKate, and a gown from Modern Trousseau called “Storm” that featured gray satin under French alencon lace with an asymmetrical tulle skirt. The collection from Southern Protocol included a blush and gold silk chiffon Grecian gown with hand beading from Nicole Miller. With some of the gowns, gold beads or lace replaced pearls as an embellishment. For example, a Lazaro gown paired gold embroidery over blush tulle, and a gown from designer Matthew Christopher featured gold Venetian threaded lace. The Liancarlo black tulle bride’s ballgown with gold embroidery was especially memorable.Charleston Fashion Week Kate McDonald LulaKate jumpsuit

Designer (above): Kate McDonald & LulaKate

Charleston Fashion Week Modern Trousseau and Nicole Miller gownsDesigners/boutique (above left to right): Modern Trousseau and Nicole Miller from Southern ProtocolCharleston Fashion Week Matthew Christopher and Liancarlo gown

Designers/boutiques (above left to right): Matthew Christopher from Southern Protocol and Liancarlo from Gown Boutique of Charleston

Very low backs were also popular, as were unusual fabric mixes, such as a ballgown with a rhinestone embellished chambray top and long silk tulle skirt. An absolute showstopper was a gown from Pronovias Atelier that paired a sheer top and feathered ballgown skirt!Charleston Fashion Week Pronovias Atelier gown

Designer/boutique (above): Pronovias Atelier from Gown Boutique of Charleston

The event was packed with beautiful gowns, but one collection that stood out as especially romantic and unique was the One Love By Rachel Gordon & Birdsong, which featured one-of-a-kind custom gowns made from vintage wedding gowns. Several of the gowns from that collection featured figure draping satins and silk.Bridal Fashion Show CharlestonBridal fashion show Charleston

Designer (4 above): One Love by Rachel Gordon & Birdsong

Fashion may be the highlight of this bridal event, but the vendors also put on a fabulous show. Caterers brought out samples of wedding cake and hors d’oeuvres, including candied bacon, which was delicious.Charleston Fashion Week 2015Raleigh’s Zass Design also had a booth, manned by jewelry designer Stephanie Smith Zuky and her mom. Zass Design is known for colorful unique jewelry, all locally made from recycled materials. Their bracelets, earrings and other jewels can be custom ordered as gifts for bridesmaids, and the colors can be coordinated with wedding themes.Zass Designs RaleighOne last fashion note: While most of the people attending were there to see the fashions on display by the featured designers, the street fashion side of this event was just as interesting. Charleston is all about style! Street fashion featured everything from the classic little black dress with pumps and pearls to individualistic styles that defy description. In Charleston, fashion isn’t just functional or beautiful; during fashion week, it’s also high theater and a ton of fun!

Glenna Musante is an award-winning writer who specializes in bridal, fashion, travel and the textile industry. She is a former writer for the Raleigh News & Observer.

Photos by f8 Photo Studios

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