During Charleston Fashion Week 2014, a special day was devoted to all things bridal on Saturday, March 22, 2014. The tent where days of runway presentations had taken place, was magically transformed into a miraculous atmosphere of beauty for all brides and grooms-to-be. Gorgeous floral arrangements framed the stage and a makeshift reception area gave us tables assembled with the perfect place setting. Vendors gave attendees everything to browse and study from sparkling jewelry for the big day to gourmet treats, including colorful cupcakes that were ours to sample and savor. Style Lounge participants included B. Gourmet Catering, Brackish Bow Ties, CupCake DownSouth, Declare Cakes, Hamby Catering & Events, Mac & Murphy, The Shops at Charleston Place and Stella & Dot. Sponsors included Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, Grey Goose Vodka, Korbel, Spike Bar Services, Technical Event Company, and The Wedding Row. Seen front and center, with pen in hand, was fashion icon, Fern Mallis, taking in the fashions with an expert eye.
An audience not only comprised of anxious couples enjoying the attention of being newly engaged, but also fashionistas with a love of fine things, took in all the unbelievably glamorous fashions presented. Seven unique collections were shown on the runway from Gown Boutique of Charleston, LulaKate, Modern Trousseau Charleston, White, Whitney Deal who was the featured up-and-coming bridal designer of the event, and Emerging Bridal Designer Kendra Barnes. The finale was a paradise of platonic fashions from hometown bridal designer, Mark Ingram, who has become a fashion trend-setter in New York City.
It was a real treat to experience all the styles available to brides, taken right off the pages of a bridal magazine, complete with bouquet and veils. From the favored classic to the widely traditional to the more modern, each style on the runway reminded us that the bride is a symbol of all love and beauty wrapped in fashion and a tradition that we will always treasure.
Gown Boutique of Charleston believes “Southern Brides will shine in our new gown collections with classic Charleston flair and elegant sparkle.” We witnessed that with the Liancarlo gown, a hand-beaded silk organza embroidery on tulle strapless mermaid gown. The Martina Liana was a lovely silk Moroccan sheath gown with portrait neckline, cap sleeves and Art Deco Diamante detailing. Feeding on the more modern inspiration, the Isabelle Armstrong was a silk organza short dress with illusion boatneck and fully patterned beading with an Augusta Jones full-length, removable tulle skirt.
LulaKate representative Katherine Mullins McDonald, tells us, “This collection is inspired by life, love and lovely little details. Live life, love Lula, and eat cupcakes!” The collection personified the great women of all time. The Onassis was a gown with a strapless bodice, pleated peplum, and slightly flared skirt with a train in silk organza. The Lombard was a circle lace gown with a scoop neck and back with a slight train. The Wintour was a gown with scoop-neck bodice, cap sleeves in scallop pallet sequin fabric and gathered double georgette skirt with small puddle train. One of my favorites was the Hathaway with spaghetti strap bodice, gathered waistband and ball gown skirt with train. It was made of Italian Garza fabric with hand-applied resin sparkle detail.
Callie Tein of Modern Trousseau Charleston says, “Our jewel-like gowns harken back to a bygone era of polished dressing, and will make brides feel beautiful, confident and sexy.” These pieces were versatile and elaborate that left us in awe. The Meadow was a Thai silk ball gown with a V-neck bodice tightly ruches at the waist with unique lace detailing and buttons trailing down the length of the back. The Natalie was a corset-style gown with re-embroidered lace bodice fitted long through the body with a dramatic, French tulle skirt and sweep train. As glamorous as its name, the Pandora was a gown of Italian sequined fabric and silk crepe fashioned into a dazzling 1920’s style with scoop neckline, delicate straps and a dramatic scalloped train.
White on Daniel Island diversified with designers that we have come to love in the world of fashion today. Jenny Packham’s gown was of silk chiffon with beaded keyhole top and finished with a headpiece by Treats for Tresses. She also had a modern take on the bride with a silk chiffon tank dress with apron front. The enchantment of the design label of Marchesa could be seen in a silk taffeta french lace top ball gown. Plenty of satin, chiffon and tulle grabbed the spotlight with a wide variety of designer namesakes.
Whitney Deal is sure to be the designer of choice for a number of brides. “My collection was inspired by morning in the wilderness. There is a quiet stillness with just a beautiful hint of dewy sparkle,” says Whitney. The collection was romantic and captivating. The Catherine gown is described as a light blush yoke with gentle short sleeves atop a silk georgette dress and completed with a beaded pearl sash. The Hazel was a strapless glitter netted bodice paired with a layered soft organza skirt. The runway was filled with the lavish lifestyle with the Ellen. This was a draped tank dress made from folded layers of soft organza and contrasted with a European grosgrain ribbon. Atop the model’s head was a vintage ribbon headpiece.
Kendra Barnes was “inspired by black and white landscape photography and this collection is for the girl that wants to be remembered.” There were pieces in varying lengths shown for every personality. The Pattern Dress was a satin ivory A-line gown with metallic accent fabric and a rhinestone embellished waistline. The Short Petal Dress was charismatic with one-shoulder and an empire waist paired with a full multi-colored organza bottom. The Ballerina Dress was a flowing charmeuse dress with an asymmetrically ruched bodice and lace embellishment detailing.
Mark Ingram has been attracting celebrity brides with his collections for quite some time. “I am so pleased and proud to be in Charleston, the home of my beloved family, and to present to you a collection of gowns inspired by this beautiful city. I hope you will enjoy,” said Mark. He certainly put the ‘M’ in magnetism with this collection. Nantucket by Naeem Kahn was a strapless floral embroidered double organza soft mermaid gown with blush lining. The Kerry Washington by Johanna Johnson was a dusty rose faille and silk charmeuse strapless bustier gown with art deco seam detailing and lace trim. The pieces became even more dramatic with the Esme by Monique Lhuillier which was an ivory embellished tulle modified trumpet gown with detachable cap sleeve with matching veil and the Tchaikovsky by Peter Langner, a dusty pink richly embroidered bustier with jagged tulle ball gown skirt.
This presentation surely made the choices more difficult for the brides-to-be. Each and every piece was a winner and would turn heads as the bride walks down the aisle. The favorite trend for this year is sure to be the very untraditional crop top as was evidenced by Whitney Deal’s open-back, cropped-top blouse paired with a glittering netted skirt. Almost every one of the seven collections gave us the mermaid gown which only flatters the curves of its wearer.
Charleston Fashion Week gets a big ‘thumbs up’ for their astounding Spring Bridal Show of 2014 and its accompanying Style Lounge of versatile vendors to dress up the occasion. Most of all, a huge thanks go out to leading sponsor, Baker Motor Company.