If anyone is on top of their social media, it’s the designers, models and executives alike within the fashion industry. Whether their platform of choice is Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr, bloggers and socialites were snapping photos all last week in Marion Square to spread the trends. #CHSFW was drawing as much attention online as the elaborate white tents and energetic runway music reverberating through the park. The avid use of social media is only one hint of how much youthful involvement there was surrounding the event, especially from college students–College of Charleston students, to be exact. Which is precisely why even after the white tents have been broken down and stowed away, the fashion buzz still lingers with the College of Charleston’s Fashion Club arranging for their own show next week.
Honestly, it’s no wonder the group has arranged for their own runway in the Stern Ballroom on April 2nd when you realize how involved they were in last week’s events. Students were a major force behind the show, especially in regards to the modeling department with Joe Quinn. Rebecca Cohen and Hannah Chabot served as Mr. Quinn’s assistants and Miss Cohen was also the director of the model team. Kaylee Lass, Emmie Clisham and Chase Pardue were model associates and Mallory Grant played two roles as an associate and Rock the Runway volunteer. Of course, students weren’t the only ones behind the scenes or in the crowd. Charleston Fashion Week also played host to fashion veterans such as Fern Malice, the original director of New York Fashion Week, and established household names such as Steve Madden.
The gap between successful socialites and young visionaries was bridged with the twenty emerging designers whose collections were featured on the runway, as well as the featured designers by prominent sponsor, Belk. At the end of the competition, the Plante sisters and Anna Toth were named the finalists, marking the first time two designers have won the competition. Each were to be rewarded with five thousand dollars in cash, a sewing machine, a marketing package and more to continue their career. Even the designers who didn’t win are still leaving with a boost in their public relations. In the end, the entire week proved that there are ladders to climb in the fashion industry and while it’s not easy to get to the top, it’s definitely possible.
Speaking of climbing ladders and making changes, let’s direct the attention back to the students in the Fashion Club. Specifically, the president, Tessa Silvernale, who is also Ayoka Lucas’ personal assistant and who defines the idea of persistence. After the hype from Charleston Fashion Week died down, I was able to speak with Tessa about not only her personal experience in the industry but also briefly about the upcoming Fashion Club events. If you’re interested in breaking into the competitive field or just hoping to attend a runway show (this one is free!), then keep on reading.
Miss Silvernale is a junior at College of Charleston, majoring in Costume Design, and became the president of the Fashion Club this year following behind Christina Marino. A fairly new organization on campus, Marino became the first president when she formed the Fashion Club last year before graduating in the spring. After Tessa heard her speak for her Fashion and Manners class, she knew she wanted to be strongly involved. In fact, she knew from about the third grade that design would be her path. “I would carry a sketch pad with me and draw up entire lines of clothing based on whatever I was inspired by that day,” Tessa said. She then noted, “at that age, I was mostly being inspired by cupcakes or cartoons.”
As Tessa grew older, she realized that she was more passionate about the behind-the-scenes side of fashion, as in runway productions and styling for magazines. So whenever she heard about Ayoka Lucas’ role in the Charleston community, it’s no wonder her ideal internship resided under her wing. Landing the job wasn’t easy though. “I was persistent for about two years,” Tessa said, “I wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept sending her my resume every time she was looking for someone to fill a position.” Her dedication paid off and she was appointed an assistant for Ayoka in regards to styling for photo shoots and campaigns before finally receiving the official title as her personal assistant only a few months ago.
During Charleston Fashion Week, which she helped to plan for an entire year prior, Tessa was the liaison between Ayoka and the entire staff force behind the events. Even though she had to spend a lot of time running around the site and organizing everyone, she said it was “like one big fashion dream.” Tessa was able to meet amazing people as well as view all the featured designs for the week, one of her personal favorites being Afriyie Poku’s line. “I was at Fashion Week last year when he won the Emerging Designer competition, so to see how far he has progressed since then was amazing and inspiring.”
Still on a high from her Charleston Fashion Week dream, we can expect the Fashion Club will put on an equally phenomenal show which will feature designs from Asos Brand and Luna on King Street. Designed to celebrate the shapes and sizes of all women, the show begins at 8pm, doors at 7pm and is completely free yet if you’re feeling generous, they’ll be taking donations for Relay for Life. Obviously, their personal event is much different from the week long fashion overdose that was fueling Marion Square last week. No Emerging Designer competition and while I wouldn’t be surprised to spot Ayoka Lucas on April 2nd, I doubt Steve Madden and the Belk executives will fly down again. They’ll just have to miss out on this one.
If you can’t make it to this event, then you can rest assured as the club is anticipating even more events in the future with the possibility of collaborating with other organizations on campus. Or if you’re interested in more than just sitting in the crowd and want to be behind the scenes as well, you can reach out to the Fashion Club as they’re always welcoming new members.
The “high stress of the behind-the-scenes world of fashion” is what she personally loves the most. “It’s all very ‘grimy glam,'” Tessa said, “Fashion isn’t all glamorous; it’s intense and cruel… but oh so very exciting!”