Colorful characters at Cirque de Couture 

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Sunday night carnies hijacked Chai's for the third annual Local Color Fashion Show. Organizers went all out with the circus theme — guests noshed on mini corn dogs and popcorn, a giant clown face surrounded the door out to the patio, and the emcee and his "assistants" looked the part of a ringmaster and his sexy helpers in sequined get-ups and top hats. But ah, the ringmaster. He very well may have just fallen out of a clown car for all the stumbling and bumbling he did; he even mispronounced the name of the show and many of the designers. But after some raised eyebrows and a late start, the show began and his awkwardness was forgotten (until he spoke again). Models strutted the circuitous runway through the restaurant wearing clothes from Rachel Gordon, Clewis Reid (aka Ashley), and Mew Designs (Megan Waldrep) — all Emerging Designers at Charleston Fashion Week 2008 — and Marysia — the 2009 CFW Emerging Designer winner. This was our first introduction to Ann Chambers-Wright, who specializes in beachwear, and Sarah Maxwell, whose bright, flirty designs were some of our favorites. During the intermission we checked out the designer sale in the back, which featured Julie Wheat's handbags, Library's vintage accessories, and more. The crowd seemed small considering the reception most of the designers got at CFW. I shared the makeshift photog's pit with just one other paparazzo most of the night. Where was the hype? This show definitely deserved it.

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