Local designers take spotlight in Thursday night's fashion week - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Local designers take spotlight in Thursday night's fashion week events

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Anne Windmuller Anne Windmuller

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – Charleston Fashion Week is taking center stage in downtown Charleston and Thursday night's show features local designers.

From humble beginnings just eight years ago, Charleston Fashion Week now attracts some of the biggest names in the fashion industry and packs them into Marion Square.

"It's really grown into a village of fashion and Charleston Fashion Week is on a national radar," said Ayoka Lucas, the founder and style director for the event. "It's in our back yard, so that to me is quite amazing. I have to pinch myself often."

Lucas says ticket sales now represent 35 different states and brings in more than $2 million for the community.

"What's going to happen moving forward, it's really going to become a platform for emerging talent, emerging designers, and models – we see a lot of success stories coming out of it," she said.

One of those success stories is James Island designer Anne Windmuller, who now sells her line of jewelry at Belk stores.

"Charleston Fashion Week is a way to just, you know, showcase years of hard work and so much brilliant talent," she said.

Windmuller started out making jewelry for herself. She says she saw things she liked and developed her own style. That led to her friends offering to buy her work off of her at events.

Windmuller says she started covering herself in what she'd made just to have enough to sell at events. That led to her friends organizing a trunk show to show off a lot of her work in one place.

"The next thing you know, I was in business," she said.

For 10 years, she'd been designing work for herself. On the urging of a friend, she entered the Southern Designer Contest sponsored by Belk and was asked to go to Charlotte to present her work to Belk representatives.

A few days later, Belk called with follow-up questions. Windmuller said they wanted to visit her studio. She says she prepared for a business meeting and instead opened the door to a celebration. The Belk team had surprised her and picked her as the contest winner.

"I don't even know what my face looked like because I was so stunned," she said.

Windmuller says the city fosters creativity.

"Charleston is a hot bed for a lot of boutique owners, a lot of creative people," she said. "Each one is an extension of someone's very passionate and very creative brand."

Even designer Steve Madden stopped by Thursday afternoon.

"I love Charleston. It's a great town. I have a store on King Street," he said.

Fashion Week started Wednesday and features some of the top modeling talent and designers along the East Coast. The grand finale is Saturday night.

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