Cavortress on Charleston Fashion Week's 'Emerging Designer' competition and process

In July of 2010, Charleston Magazine put a call out for designers wishing to apply to participate in Charleston Fashion Week (CFW) as an emerging designer with a September deadline for application.

I submitted a written application that answered questions like:  What inspires you to create?How did you come to be a designer? What designer most influences you? What is your design philosophy? Description of your personal style. Why you should be chosen as the winner?

In addition to the questionnaire, I had to submit sketches (which I don’t usually do) of the designs you wish to show at CFW, photos of past work, and a video where you must show your work space and talk about what you wish to bring to the fashion industry as well as show your designs on a model. In order to be eligible, you have to fall into one of the following three categories: currently design for your own label/company and have done so for less than two years, currently design as a hobby/part time job/on the side, or currently studying fashion design.

In December, Style Director for Charleston Magazine, Ayoka Lucas called and asked a few questions about my application then informed me that I had been chosen. I was (and still am!) extremely thankful for the opportunity to participate and represent my local community at the most significant fashion event in the Southeast. 

Much of the Emerging Designer Competition preparation is done in February, the month before CFW. The night that each emerging designer shows their collection was announced and Cavortress will be featured on Thursday, March 24th  (get your tickets here!).  Designers were provided a ‘model book’ via email that had a portrait and full length shot of each model available for booking that was accompanied by their height, weight, measurements, shoe, and clothing size.  We got to choose 18 models out of the nearly 300 available and soon will chose our top 12 at an "audition" 18 will ‘audition" where the girls walk the catwalk for designers. Next comes the fitting. The fitting is where you try the clothing on the models and decide who wears what and what order they walk in.  With two days to make any adjustments, there isn’t much room for error. I pretty much have to show up with all completed garments and hope that my selections from measurements and photos are a match. You can’t really alter swimwear. Really ladies, have you ever thought about altering swimwear? Probably not.

I must confess that I scoped the models out on Facebook because it is hard to pick models by looking at just two pictures and measurements. Also, I am showing swimwear and the models are featured in the book wearing streetwear.  It’s one thing to model in front of an audience in clothes, and another to do it in a bathing suit. Cavortress isn’t just clothes, it’s equipment for a fashionable lifestyle cavorting so when I select models for Cavortress, it is important that they have just a little bit of sass and extra sparkle in their eyes.

Well, what can I say? Facebook comes in handy!  My chosen 18 look great and I’m anxious to meet them in person. Charleston Magazine and model coach Michelle Wood (who is from the Charleston area and modeled for Armani and Vivienne Westwood at New York Fashion Week!) did a fabulous job at recruiting and training models so that there are enough to go around for each show and the models won’t be stressed out or tire throughout each nightly event. 

It is my understanding that the models and well as their hair and makeup looks are exclusive for each emerging designer show nightly, meaning that the models I choose will only be used for Cavortress on Thursday night for the competition. Also, in February, I had to send makeup looks in for review and had a consultation with Ashley Brook Perryman, Director of hair/makeup for CFW who manages all of the MUAH artists and looks for each runway show. This year artists had to audition their skills on live models and be chosen in order to style hair and makeup at CFW.  This for me is one of the most exciting parts of a fashion show because hair and makeup really helps consumers understand your brand and collection and the pictures last forever. 

Last but not least, the music. This is probably one of the most important parts of the show.  It sets the tone and pace for your presentation. If the music is off, it’s just not going to go well.  Luckily, I’ve had help from my brother who is a musician, DJ DOM-E from Sausage Records in Paris, and John Doe from Las Vegas (founder of The Get Back) and my students at the Art Institute of Charleston.  DJ Arthur Bros. (who has been known to play in Charleston on special occasions and holidays like Spoleto and New Years) are coordinating the music for CFW runway shows.  They are amazing and I’m looking forward to collaborating.

Semifinalists are required to show 8 looks. One part of the competition requires that if you are the chosen winner the night of your show  you go on to compete as a finalist on Saturday, March 26th for the grand prize.  Finalists are required to show four new looks. The Cavortress 2011 collection has 10 looks so I need an extra two if I am chosen to show on Saturday and have been working on these the past couple weeks.  These looks are in addition to the collection that is being manufactured and exclusively for the Saturday show if I am selected.

To find out more about Cavortress in the Local Community, stay tuned for our post on Friday!