FEATURE ‌ Seeing Red 

Wearing their hearts on their sleeves at 53 Cannon

Wearable Art Fashion Show
Wed. Feb. 14, 6-8 p.m.
53 Cannon Street Gallery
53 Cannon St.
Call to reserve a seat, 853-2004

Currie McCullough is trying to decide where to put the runway. Does it begin at the bottom of the steps to her Cannon Street art gallery's back piazza and extend across the manicured lawn? Or does it snake out of a toolshed at the opposite end of the lawn and bifurcate the yard, allowing the models to use the cleared-out shed as an ersatz changing room?

McCullough stands amid a clutch of Charleston fashion and accessory designers in the evening chill as they weigh the benefits of each option and twilight descends on the West Side neighborhood that's home to 53 Cannon St. Gallery. Meanwhile, an open door at one end of the piazza reveals a crowd of young women joking and jostling amid a flurry of fabric, trying on the new designs -- some still unfinished -- that they'll be wearing for the evening's dress rehearsal.

Eventually, after some consultation with the assembled fashionistas, McCullough decides on an arrangement that allows the models to enter onto the piazza from the home's kitchen, make their way down the steps and onto the eight-foot runway, then back up and through another door at the piazza's opposite end.

One model, wearing a LulaKate hat, a dress from Adrienne Antonson's Spinster line, and what look to be seven-inch-heeled kicks from Farushga Shoes pauses at the top of the six crooked wooden steps, the obvious question in her eyes.

"That's what the designers want," McCullough says to her, encouraging. "They like the drama of you coming out of the house and walking down the steps."

Drama indeed. Another model, an extra-tall hourglass in a super-low-cut shimmering silver design from LaBanna Bly (a new line from Sarah Fraser, the progeny of local artists West and Mary Edna Fraser) finds herself slipping out of the dress in all the wrong places during her turn on the runway.

"Be careful!" a designer blurts from the side. "Oh, wow, you're gonna show some real ... you can tape it if you want."

"Yeah," the model giggles, delicately tucking back in. "I think I might tape it."

Last week was fashion week in New York. On Wed. Feb. 14 -- Valentine's Day, for those who've been living in sensory deprivation talks since New Year's Eve -- McCullough's hosting the Wearable Art Fashion Show at her downtown gallery, featuring fashions and accessories from local designers and artists. The show will highlight clothing from LaBanna Bly, Spinster Design, and LulaKate; hats and woven accessories from Magar Hatworks, Leigh Alexander, and Meyriel Edge; shoes from Farushga; and jewelry from Jesse Hendrix, BEC Metalwork, and Dead Red Robin. Among the models, watchers will also be able to spot body art from Laura Davis' Avondale-based Museum of Living Arts.

"Including that makes it more of a fun performance event, I feel," McCullough observes. "I always try to push things here a little further than what people's expectations might be. Piercing and tattooing certainly fall into the category of wearable art, and bringing that into a fashion show setting makes the whole thing a little more well rounded, I think."

Soon-to-be-married DJ Eleazar "Sleepyhead" Cruz will be supplying the ung-cha ung-cha accompaniment for the early evening event (6-8 p.m.), and attendees will be able to get their anti-Valentines nosh on with champagne and cupcakes. At halftime, former New York modern dancer Beth Coiner will perform an originally choreographed short work -- presumably not to include the steps, but there's no telling. After all, McCullough likes to push things.



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