I will be perfectly honest, I have a new crush. In fact, it's more than a crush. I am head-over-heels in love with Charleston Fashion Week - a premier event for this charming city's fashion flock. No, I did not mean to say New York, Paris, Milan or even Los Angeles. I have spent the last few glorious days in Charleston, which was recently named "Top City in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler. Lucky me. In addition to the boutiques on King Street, the beautiful palm trees, the Southern hospitality, the award-winning food and the best-dressed locals, Charleston is fast becoming a pathway for aspiring talent-fashion designers, make-up artists, models, stylists, photographers and more.
What's not to like? As one of the judges for Charleston Fashion Week's 2013 Emerging Designer Competition, I was able to collaborate, revel in and catch up with fashionistas from everywhere. From iconic New York designer Cynthia Rowley and Sarah Parrott, an NBC Fashion Star alum, to the one and only Fern Mallis, founder of New York Fashion Week. It was clear to everyone that designers are taking full advantage of the print cycle - from beautiful florals to pattern mixing, modernist lines and color blocking.
I was especially impressed with the Charleston Fashion Week team and completely taken with Ayoka Lucas, the creative director of this fashion phenomenon. There is no doubt that in every corner of Marion Square in historic downtown Charleston, Ayoka's vision absolutely elevated the utter chicness of everything - from each night's fashion shows in the enormous runway tent to the elegant aesthetic in the style lounge.
Walking back to my hotel one night, I struck up a conversation with a young mom and her 10-year-old daughter from a small town in South Carolina who were first timers at the event. They were completely awed by the ubiquitous experience and were already making plans to come back next year. Not a bad idea since 2013 marked Charleston Fashion Week's seventh year, and there was not an extra hotel room to be had.
And if all of this fashion wonder were not enough, the memory of the authentic and prized cuisine still tantalizes my taste buds more than I can describe. Yes, while in Charleston, among other delicacies, I experienced my very favorite appetizer ever - and I do mean ever. Imagine a beautiful plate of crisp fried green tomatoes with pickled okra sprinkled on top and a helping of pimento cheese on the side. I topped it off with a hushpuppy dipped in honey. Oh my (Southern) goodness!
I can't wait to see what next year's event will bring!