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6:01 PM
It’s raining as I get to the tents—which is doing horrendous things to my hair, already—so I’m expecting there to be less people arriving early than yesterday. Apparently even the “scattered showers with a chance of frizz” weather forecast does not deter CFW fans, because people are already staking out prime seats under the tents and enjoying the bar area. Among them are Emerging Design Competition semi-finalist Swapnali Ahire with her mom picking up CFW merchandise. “I had to get a t-shirt!” she says. I ask how she felt about her show the night before, “Awesome. It was so great. I’m looking forward to seeing the finalists!”

6:37 PM
I slip backstage to see how crazy things are in hair and makeup, but everything is under control. There are a lot less nerves tonight, and I catch up with Ayoka Lucas and Ashley Perryman, who are relaxed and joking around. “Are you having fun?” Ayoka asks me. Obviously! There seem to be a lot more props backstage tonight, ranging from umbrellas to cigarette holders to an adorable (and adoptable!) puppy from Pet Helpers named Calvin Klein. I may have to steal that little fuzz ball, I wonder if he’ll fit in my bag...

6:53 PM
I’m on my way to stake a spot in the photographer’s pit, but I get sidetracked first by the Accessories and Style Lounge—so many shiny things, so many shoes!—and then by the smell of the Oak Steakhouse concession stand. Finally I get my food and shoe fetish back under control and take my place by the runway. The seats are packed tonight!

7:20 PM
I’ve just watched the Audrey Hepburn-inspired Boutique NV show, and I am in love. Puppies, sequined cigarette holders, big hats, and short, sassy dresses... who wouldn’t be? The crowd comes alive when Calvin Klein (the furry one, not the designer) takes the stage; he totally steals the show. The clothes are gorgeous, but most importantly the show itself was fun to watch!

7:48 PM
Mary Porter’s show ends to a loud round of applause from the audience. The show had an Old Hollywood theme which beautifully showcased her gowns and was a hit with the crowd. Models were glamorous and composed, and the show had an element of pageantry which was truly striking.

8:03 PM
The models are lining up for the next shows backstage, but a few are doing one last practice walk behind the backdrop. I run into model Paulette Barba, who walked in the Boutique NV show. She tells me, “I’m so excited! This is my first CFW!”

8:24 PM
The II Brunettes show begins, and the energy level goes through the roof. Their Boho-glam theme rocks the runway. The clothes are fun, the music is fun, and clearly the audience is having fun! The store owners take the stage to a round of enthusiastic applause.

8:47 PM
It’s the second break of the evening. I check in backstage, and the Copper Penny models are lining up while the Billy Reid models receive finishing touches. Everyone is focused but relaxed, enjoying a night of fabulous fashion and Charleston glamour. I make my way back to the bar lounge area, and run into Jeffery Rhodes of the Margo Kaufman Gallery. He points me to Susie Armstrong-Tracy, who is wearing David Boatwright’s piece from the Modified Dress Project from the CFW launch party. “I love this dress! Were you worried someone else would outbid you?” I ask her. She laughs, “Didn’t you notice me possessively standing next to it all night? I had to have it. This was the one!”

9:04 PM
The Copper Penny show is about to begin, but I spot II Brunettes owner Sarah Leigh and have to introduce myself. After uncontrollably gushing about how much I loved her show, I have to ask about her stunning outfit. “It’s by Sarah Maxwell! She’s a local designer out of Charleston, and she’s incredible!”

9:14 PM
The Copper Penny finale leaves the stage. An array of fabulous flowing, printed dresses made the biggest impression fashion-wise, but the audience was clearly delighted when the models tossed beach balls into the crowd. When a beach ball smacked into an unsuspecting photographer’s camera during the show, I had to wonder if perhaps they enjoyed them an little too much!

9:30 PM
The Billy Reid show draws to a close. Billy Reid’s spring 2009 collection receives tons of applause throughout the show, but the crowd responded the most strongly to his tailored, elegant menswear... or was it the super hot models? Regardless, the collection is a huge hit! Everyone is reluctant to leave the tents, but I’ll be back tomorrow... rain or shine!

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