Top models Rock the Runway

James Hong (front) was the male winner of the Rock the Runway competition.

While the majority of talk surrounding fashion shows typically revolves around the designers and their work, the models that strut down the runway play an essential role in the outcome of the production.

It’s no different at Baker Motor Co. Charleston Fashion Week, where in addition to finding the next big designer, they’re looking to find the next big model.

Through the Rock the Runway Model Competition, a number of success stories have emerged.

Caroline DeBruhl, winner of the 2010 Rock the Runway Competition, signed with IMG, the world’s No. 1 international model management firm.

Phoebe Marie Guest has walked at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami Beach and has signed an exclusive three-year contract with Ford Models.

Ajang Majok, winner of the 2011 Rock the Runway Competition, has walked for Oscar de la Renta.

And the models who competed on Friday hope for such success.

Female finalists Marlene Aydlette, Eleanor Ball, Amanda Foster, Savannah Gibson, Emily Hammond, Ciara Moss, Aleman Parish, Kristen Rattley, Makenna Reeder and Keionna Richardson, and male finalists Yvann Filipczak, Timothy Hill, James Hong, Zachary Mallard and Vyacheslav Van were selected from 800 entries through a series of castings, fittings and rehearsals.

But it was Hong and Reeder who walked away with the titles, along with $1,000 cash each, mentoring opportunities with industry leaders, round-trip flights to New York and more.

The Emerging Designer Competition: East entered its final night of semifinalist showings, featuring the works of Mary Katherine Schweitzer, Siobhan Murphy, Hope Wallace, Kendra Duplantier and Roz Morris.

The last spot in today’s finale went to Murphy. Showing pieces that were stylized on the childhood fantasy of dress up, her line ReTulled by Siobhan featured a number of dresses with classic ’50s and ’60s silhouettes, rich velvet pieces, jackets with old-world tailoring and tule. She will compete against Katherine Barron, Serena da Conceicao and Afriyie Poku for the overall title of Emerging Designer: East.

The People’s Choice winner of the night was Wallace, who won the crowd over with her bold, graphic pieces with silhouettes from the ’60s and ’70s. She based her works in black, white and gray, using seaming and pops of neon yellow and coral to make them stand out.

Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant and V2V were the retail runway shows featured on Day 4 of Fashion Week, both of which have participated since its inception seven years ago.

“Our favorite trends for Spring 2013 are leather, leather and more leather, along with pastels and camouflage,” said Weezie Fetscher Hiott, women’s buyer.

And that’s just what Gwynn’s featured, with the help of the College of Charleston Gospel Choir, showing women’s and menswear ranging from contemporary to classic.

Guys were in seersucker, rolled jeans, tailored suits and fedoras, while shear was again a theme with the womenswear, along with bold colors and graphic-print pieces. Additional looks included leopard-print, jean accessories, neon, gold dresses and lots of leather.

V2V store manager Heidi Johnson said, “Our favorite thing about Charleston style is its warmth and vibrancy, and we contribute to this by always carrying fun and colorful outfits.”

And color she brought, with flowing maxi dresses, a number of looks that could only be described as boho chic and pantsuits in light summer fabrics. A number of pieces were in emerald, the Pantone color of the year, while another trend was white, shown in a number of styles.

Day 4 closed with featured designer Antonio Azzuolo’s menswear collection a.a. antonio azzuolo. Paired with shoes from Charleston’s Sneaker boutique, the line was all about New York street style. Featuring denim on denim, vibrant prints on shorts, lots of neutrals and tailored jackets, the dominant piece on the runway was slacks tuned into long shorts. Azzuolo even had a few women dressed in his designs take a turn down the runway.