Under the Tents at Marion Square

Charleston Fashion Week 2016 expands in scope and scale

By Abby Deering
Photos provided

Last year was a milestone for Charleston Fashion Week (CFW), one of the premier fashion weeks in North America. The event celebrated its 10th anniversary and featured more than 40 runway shows attended by more than 8,100 fashion devotees. This year, CFW shows no signs of slowing. This multimedia event has become known for its high-end runway shows, interactive entertainment, chic after-parties, exclusive press events, designer meet-and-greets, and citywide pop-up shops and trunk shows.

The announcement of Hendrick Lexus Charleston as the new title sponsor for 2017 has created a lot of excitement and lent even greater cachet to the event. “Given that the Lexus slogan is ‘The Pursuit of Perfection/Amazing in Motion,’ they parallel CFW’s aesthetic,” said Naomi Russell, executive director of Charleston Fashion Week.

CFW 2016 Fashion Panel members Bradley Schmidt, Andrea Serrano, Raul Arevalo, Fern Mallis, Ayoka Lucas, Tanya Sheikh and Ivan Gilkes.


2016 Emerging Designer Winner Destani Hoffman’s Fall 2016 Collection. (Side Yard Studios photo.)

As with previous years, the event will continue to showcase fashion designers, retailers, and models; however, this year it’s on an even bigger scale.

Last year, the event footprint more than tripled in size; this year, it will grow even bigger. And the growth is not just in sheer scale. It’s in scope as well.

A model gets help lacing her shoes during last-minute preparations. (Photo credit: Brianna Stello.)


The Emerging Designer Competition, a proven launch pad for designers and cornerstone of the CFW imprint, is expanding this year to include applicants from all 50 states. This is the first time in eight years the competition has invited design talent from around the country to compete.

Led by the illustrious Fern Mallis, a panel of fashion professionals will judge the emerging designers, with the winner receiving a prize package including $10,000 in cash, $10,000 worth of online marketing, a New York Fashion Week internship and more.

Belk, the official department store sponsor for CFW 2017, has announced that starting this year, one Charleston Fashion Week Emerging Designer semifinalist will be named as a winner in the Belk Southern Designer Showcase. As part of the prize, the winner’s merchandise will be carried in select Belk stores and Belk.com for spring 2018.

CFW has, once again, launched a nationwide talent search, and its Rock the Runway Model Competition is supporting and showcasing a community of up-and-coming and undiscovered talent. CFW is a proven platform for aspiring models to gain access to careers in fashion modeling and design with more than 30 CFW models having been signed to national contracts since 2015. Recent CFW judges included senior scouts from Elite Model Management, Ford, and Wilhelmina Models Miami modeling agencies, to name just a few.

Also returning this year is the annual Spring Bridal Show, a favorite crowd event that’s not to be missed.

In addition to the return of CFW staples, rumors have been swirling about several big-name entertainers who will take part in this year’s festivities. By all accounts, the 11th Annual Lexus Charleston Fashion Week promises to be the most spectacular CFW yet.

See you under the tents at Marion Square.


Want to go?

March 14–18, 2017
Marion Square, Historic Downtown Charleston, S.C.

Events showcase emerging designer and model talent across the East Coast. In it’s 11th year, Lexus Charleston Fashion Week has become one of the premier fashion weeks in North America. It is a five-night celebration of  more than 35 runway shows, the Emerging Designer Competition: East, and the Rock the Runway Model Competition.

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