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Ayoka Lucas – A Dream Realized

BE-Style: What is the process for choosing the featured and emerging designers for CFW?

AL: The competition is open to emerging designers throughout the southeast. We’ve pooled together a fashion panel of judges to include professionals & insiders {such as} Elysa Lazar, Mychael Knight, Ashley Reid, Cynthia Rowley, Anne Slowey, and myself. We will choose one grand prize designer and a people’s choice designer at the end of the week. The featured designers are Gordana Gehlhasen, Mychael Knight, Mary Porter, Ashley Reid, Carol Hannah Whitfield, Logan Neitzel, and Maria Reeves. They have all gone from being an emerging talent to successfully establishing their own brands. The presence of these persons really validates our efforts and lets people know that we are on the fashion radar here in Charleston. 

BE-Style: Have you noticed a similar trend in the matriculation of models in the industry as that of the previously noted designers?

AL: Yes, I have. Many of the models have moved to New York or have contracts with major agencies and are working regularly. One of the models from 2007, Clark was on a season of American Next Top Model. So, I have seen models go on to pursue their career in modeling. This is why we’ve decided to do the Rock the Runway Competition this year, because we see approximately 800 models that tryout for CFW and we want to give them the platform to make their entrance to the industry. 

BE-Style: What are your hopes for this year’s event?

AL: In a nutshell, I really want to connect the local fashion community to the global world. We have doubled the attention of media from previous years and I hope that is an indication that we are moving in the right direction. It is important to give designers and models that platform to break into an industry that is virtually impossible at times to get into and survive. I hope it brings awareness to our community partners (MUSC Children Hospital, Center for Women, and Lowcountry AIDS Services). I love fashion and the life of fashion but I am a big advocate for “Fashion with a Conscious.” Charleston Magazine finds it essential to make sure that we help someone through our efforts; it’s Glamorous to Give. 

BE-Style: Have you been involved with Charleston Fashion Week since it’s conception?

AL: I actually pitched the idea to my publisher. I have a great passion for what I do as it relates to fashion and style. And I have such a great respect for the entity that is known as New York Fashion Week. There is the energy in NYC and I wished I could bottle it at times. I remember having this dream about hosting a fashion week here in Charleston, I told one of my interns and then I kind of laughed it off. It was just one of those things that I thought was a vision but didn’t think it would really happen. I decided to take it to my publisher and the next thing I knew, it was in the works as a Charleston Magazine event. The Art Institute is our presenting sponsor but CFW is produced by the magazine. From year to year, our events have grown exponentially and I don’t know if the tents can get any bigger. This year we even have a separate tent for the Saturday shows.  

BE-Style: How do you manage to coordinate such an amazing event each year?

AL: It’s tricky. It is a Charleston Magazine event and we have an amazing staff that supports us in still meeting our deadlines for the magazine and coordinating the events simultaneously. I personally work on three magazines and take it day by day. We have production coordinators, volunteer coordinators, runway coordinator, teams to help with the tents, and I am the Creative Director; it is one huge puzzle with a million pieces. You see all the pieces and you know what it is supposed to look like, so we all work together to make that happen in the course of a year. Once this is all over, we are right back into thinking, talking, conceiving, planning, budgeting, and finally executing the necessary steps to make it happen. We are able to make it work, LIVE, every night with great help from our local sponsors, the city, and television networks. So when Tim Gunn says, “Make it Work,” and Kelly Cutrone says, “If you have to cry, go outside,” it is just that. (Smile).

BE-Style: What are some suggestions you have for aspiring designers and models that would like to participate in future CFW events?

AL: I think the best thing to do is stay connected. Go to the website and sign up for the newsletters. If you’re a model, you have to practice, practice, and practice. You may be a model for print and not the runway so make sure you do your research. For the emerging designers, start sketching now for Spring 2011 and again, stay connected. You want to make sure you know the application and submission dates. 

BE-Style: And finally, what are you thoughts on the conversation of increasing the sample sizes of models?

AL: I think it’s so “healthy.” I think that the weight battle will be a never-ending battle just as that of trying to have more of a presence for minority models. But it is something that we have to continue to push our views upon and continue to make sure that it is in our conversation. Keep in mind though, that designers want to use what models they feel will get their lines out to the masses and sell. I don’t think that many of them have a since of responsibility to the world to place their designs on models that are not a size 0-2. Then you do have designers that feel strongly about having real size women in their garments. I think it’s great that we are experiencing the change and change is good. 

About the author

Jason Dinsmore has written 1330 articles for BE Entertained Magazine

J.Write is the Owner/Editor-In-Chief of BE Entertained Magazine. He's previously written for The Source, Dapper, DOWN, Break, & Full Blast Magazines. He's also contributed to a numBEr of blogs across the U.S.

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