Tuesday night at the Emerging Designer Competition semi-finalist show (updated)

Image by TheDigitelImage by 20090325-cfw.jpg You can view all of the photos directly over here. -- If you were out there taking picture or video, share in the comments.

Update March 25, late a.m.: Added video by Geoff Marshall, and some links to related media finds added at the bottom under "More coverage."

Update March 25, 7 p.m.: Charleston Fashion Week has a nice, chronological write-up from the night, and four photo galleries. One, two, three, and four.

Read more stories on this subject in our Charleston Fashion Week topic page.

Charleston Fashion Week is here and Digitel interns Charlotte Gutman and Brian Wilder are on the scene and bringing you rival takes on the night.

Here's their take from Tuesday night's Emerging Designer Competition semi-finalist show, followed up with a final take on the night from Stella French. -- You can follow all of their showdown on our Charlotte vs. Brian topic page.

Charlotte Gutman

First and foremost I have to say that I was ultimately impressed way beyond expectation tonight at CFW’s Emerging Local Designers show. The models seemed handpicked from Bryant Park, the designer previews were so sophisticated, and the tent itself was tasteful yet sexy. I was truly blown away by the everything in that tent!

Naturally the ambience of the evening was overall very energetic, because it was the first night of the festivities, but everyone’s smiles and excitement invigorated me almost to tears. It was obvious that every single designer worked the hardest they possibly could to make the most incredible collections, and it showed in the crowd’s reaction.

Melanie Marcum told me, “Emily Bargeron's collection was fresh and inspiring. The patterns were hip yet current. Colors were spot on for the Spring season. Love her influences! Bogo-mod!”

It’s true, Bargeron's collection was incredible. I would probably describe it as “free people couture,” and all of her materials are free trade or recycled. She blew the crowd away, but not as much as Shan Keith who described his collection as “gardens to garments.” His green floral chiffon gown took the cake for me this evening.

Every designer was incredible. I cannot express my excitement for the designers, Charleston, and Charleston Magazine for this spectacular night.

-- CMG

Follow her tweets @cowtongue

Brian Wilder

As far as Charleston Fashion Week 2009 is concerned, I never thought in a million years that my prayers would be answered on the very first day of runway shows: Menswear.

If you did not follow my Twitter updates then, first off, you missed out on some rather impressive coverage, but moreover there shined a proverbial beacon of light under the main tent and his name was Shan Keith.

For some reason, a great deal of top-shelf, men’s clothing designers have become convinced that 98% of the world’s male population are no taller than 5'6" and have the physique of a Swedish schoolboy. Needless to say, there are not very many options for those of us out there who tend to prefer a little bit of meat on our own bones.

That is why it was absolutely phenomenal that Keith was able to represent for us on the first night of CFW ’09. A round of applause is most definitely in order.

Quite possibly the best quote of the night came from an impressionable group of high school girls from Bishop England Academy when they exclaimed, in unison: “We love this more than you’d ever know!”

As a side note, Swapnali Ahire should be a definite inspiration for all future designers who intend to push the envelope…the right way.

I am rather overwhelmed (in a very good way) as to what I’ve experienced so far. Look forward to doing it all over again tomorrow when local boutiques like Copper Penny showcase their talent on the runway.

Until then…

-- BJW

Follow his tweets @GQbound

The final word from Stella French

Read more stories on this subject in our Charleston Fashion Week topic page.

The schedule:
6:45 Amanda deLeon
7:05 Caroline Baker
7:45 Emily Bargeron
8:05 Jonathan Nigel Moore
8:45 Shan Keith
9:05 Swapnali Ahire

The official afterparty was at Chais Lounge & Tapas bar right down King street. CFW DJ, Arthur Brouthers, joined us down there to let loose. After arriving, it was time to secure one of their sought-after mojitos. Yum!

The Charleston Fashion Week tent was amazing!!!

The backdrop was lit up with sparkling LEDs from PDA and the models were leggy and stunning. Behind the velvet rope, media was treated to front row seats with goodie bags and notebooks from the Art Institute of Charleston. Perfect for notes on all the stunning collections from the semi-finalists of the Emerging Designer Competition. Did I mention the drinks they brought us?? No standing in line and plenty of time to network. There were lots of out-of-town media guests to catch up with. And best, the drinks kept the creative juices flowing!

The live photo tweets drained the battery on my iPhone. I had to keep running across the street to the Smoking Lamp to charge my battery and post pictweets. And then run back over in my awesome sneakers to grab a drink and get seated.

The official afterparty was at Chais Lounge & Tapas bar right down King street. Brian, Charlotte, and I booked it down there to secure seats in the outside lounge area, so we could drop our stuff and mingle. CFW DJ, Arthur Brouthers, joined us down there to let loose. After arriving, it was time to secure one of their sought-after mojitos. Yum! Chais had the whole outside area cooking with lantern heaters, so everyone could show off their amazing outfits. Me in my McQ leggings. Ha! I even switched into high heels. The beautiful models showed up, looking like the just left the runway in amazing clothes, hair, and makeup. Go Stella Nova and the talent Ashley Brook Perryman. Work it!

What I loved about the afterparty, were all the guests that joined us that had not made it into the tents. Go Charleston! Nothing like attending the party to catch up on juicy gossip! That is the whole reason we have all the live features on our site, to share CFW with everyone. The whole CFW crew was there celebrating the sweet success of the opening night.

Did you know that the dog on the runway was named Stella? It must be fate! She was as cute as a button with her fashionable bandana!

Looking forward to checking out the runways tomorrow for the local boutiques. Especially Billy Reid!

See you under the tents! -- If not, be sure to keep refreshing our CFW page which will bring you live Twitter updates from the Charleston Fashion Week scene.
Twitter: @SvetlanaMinx

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