All fashioned out after CFW's ninth year 

Pretty People

CFW founder Ayoka Lucas hangs out with her fashion posse

J. Chandler Thomas

CFW founder Ayoka Lucas hangs out with her fashion posse

As a regular on Travel + Leisure's Most Attractive People list, all of us here in Charleston are used to gorgeous citizens. But this past week, instead of just seeing the usual pretty people, we had the added benefit of seeing pretty people walk in a straight line on a runway in the middle of Marion Square. Charleston Fashion Week was started nine years ago by former Charleston resident (though still here in spirit) Ayoka Lucas, and CFW has since grown into a huge annual event that draws in people from around the nation.

The fun thing about CFW is that you don't really need to care much about fashion to enjoy it. If you're like us, the production aspect is the most appealing. Each year, we look forward to the sound and lights, and the event really is surprising in that department. Much like a toddler attracted to anything shiny, our attention is always directed to the entire tent between model looks. And it's a sight to behold thanks to Technical Event Company owner Todd St. Onge.

If you know St. Onge, you know he's always on the job. But this year inclement weather nearly destroyed his hard work when a storm put him in danger of losing his $50K media wall that sets the backdrop of the whole show. St. Onge quickly left an after-party to dry the whole apparatus, saving the show for the rest of the week. It's that kind of dedication and behind-the-scenes work that gets our utmost respect. We know of few things we would leave an after-party for. Maybe a fire ... maybe.

Speaking of behind-the-scenes action, on night two, during the second show, we noticed a bit of a lag in the model rotation. Thinking someone lost a shoe or the ability to walk, we learned the next night that a model apparently forgot to eat and was carried out on a stretcher. Models, y'all. The rest of us were treated to Tristan in the VIP tent. Did we mention we miss Tristan as a brick-and-mortar? Time for 492 to open already.

The runway shows continued Wednesday, and it was a charming affair — Southern Charming that is. Shep Rose and Craig Conover, along with Darcy Shankland, editor-in-chief of Charleston magazine, emceed the evening. Rose was outfitted by Ike Behar, Conover by K. Cooper Ray of Social Primer (our favorite dandy addition to the Bravo show), and Shankland by Gwynn's of Mt. Pleasant. After a series of jokes we realized that Shep would have had a great career as a stand-up in an airport Hilton lounge circa 1972. In fact, he was the first comic relief at CFW in recent memory and turned out a great performance. Some may have watched the Charmers hoping for disaster, but they nailed it.

  • J. Chandler Thomas
  • J. Chandler Thomas

After a brief break, we headed back to the tents on Friday. Best of Charleston Winner DJ NattyHeavy was spinning in the Style Lounge and later provided the soundtrack for the official after-party at Prohibition. Commandeering an Uber for the rest of the night, we went back-and-forth between Prohibition and the unofficial after-party at Faculty Lounge.

click to enlarge Bay Street Biergarten's Bier Pong Tourney was a workout - J. CHANDLER THOMAS
  • J. Chandler Thomas
  • Bay Street Biergarten's Bier Pong Tourney was a workout

After all that partying, we needed Sunday's Pretty Hurts post-CFW brunch back at Republic. Hosted by Ayoka Lucas' StylePublic blog, the annual event is always a nice way to tie up any loose ends before bidding adieu to the stylish week and hibernating for the rest of forever.

Alas, hibernating was not to be. We needed some physical activity. So we met up with Chucktown Social to work up a sweat at Bay Street Biergarten's Bier Pong Tourney. Interestingly, state law allows for only water to be in the cups, though you can have whatever swill you desire on the side. Who knew we had state regulations on drinking games? Given the weekend, we found it an excellent way to hydrate, and with $500 at stake, the game also came with bragging rights for a year, though we wouldn't put that on a resume.

  • J. Chandler Thomas

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