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Posted: March 16, 2013 6:33 p.m.

Local to compete in fashion week event

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Callie Nichol

Design and fashion may be a dream for some people, but an evolving Social Circle designer will face reality as she participates in a competition for emerging designers during Charleston Fashion Week, in Charleston, S.C.
Callie Nichol, 23, is one of 20 semifinalists who will compete in the Emerging Designer Competition, where she and other top designers chosen by the CFW fashion panel will show their Fall 2013 collections March 19-22.

A group of semifinalists will show their designs each night, where one designer from each evening and a special judge’s choice, will be selected by the panel of judges as a finalist to advance to the Saturday evening finale. The top designer will have the chance to be named the grand prize winner.

The grand prize winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize; a $10,000 online marketing and promotional package from F22 Designs (a design firm in Charleston, S.C.); a mentoring opportunity with fashion industry leaders week of CFW; professional high-quality lookbook images of the winner’s Fall collection photographed by J.Balliet: Photographer; a free runway show at Charleston Fashion Week 2014; a BERNINA sewing machine compliments of Fashion Fabrics [a wholesale fabric store]; and a signature jewelry piece. The people’s choice winners will receive a $250 cash prize.

Design applicants started the process nine months before fashion week and after a rigorous selection process, the top 20 designers were selected as semifinalists.

Nichol, who graduated with a fashion degree from Savannah College of Art and Design June 2012, said she was on a job search when she found out she was a semifinalist in the competition.

“After I graduated, I took an internship in England...and I did a little traveling as well,” Nichol said. “When I came home, I realized I had to get a job and I started to job hunt, but I found out that I was accepted in this competition and I decided to do that. I knew there would be no time to work a job and do this so I put the job hunt on pause and I focused on Charleston Fashion Week.”

Nichol said she went to college to study creative writing, but when she signed up for a fashion class as an elective, she became more interested in producing physical creations.

“We had to take classes outside of our major to, I guess, encourage other interests. I started the writing program and I needed a change,” Nichol said. “I was just looking at all of the classes that they offered. And I was like, ‘Well, I guess I will take a fashion class,’ and my roommate during my freshman year took a couple and they looked fun, so I figured, I’d give it a go.”

“I came from a writing background and I loved to tell stories and to create stories with fashion; you kind of get to create stories with clothes. I just really like having the tangible thing of something that I created,” Nichol said.
Nichol’s creativity has not only landed her a semifinalist spot at CFW; she also interns with a design label in Atlanta, the Annie Griffin Collection. As for being a participant during fashion week, Nichol said she knew being a designer would be fun, but she didn’t realize all of the production that went into crafting fashions.

“At first I thought it was cool. I was like, ‘Yeah, this is cool; it will be fun, whatever.’ Then when we went and had our production meetings and we met our models, things finally started to get real and I started talking to people and I realized that it was kind of a really big deal,” she said.

“It really can help launch your career [and] I just became really overwhelmed,” she said. “But it’s been great. I mean, I’m really happy that I got the chance to participate.”
Nichol also said she realized CFW was a significant event after talking with some of her friends from SCAD and other people in the fashion industry.

“I guess there’s just a stigma with fashion where you think that if you are not doing something in New York, you are not doing something important. When I started talking to people who had worked in fashion before and had been in it before in Charleston, they were like, ‘Oh yeah, Fern Mallis (International Fashion and Design Consultant) comes from New York City; this year Christian Siriano (from the TV competition series Project Runway) is coming; Ashanti (Grammy award winner and entertainer) is coming and I was like, ‘Oh, I guess this is a bigger deal than I thought.’”

Nichol traveled to Charleston Saturday to prepare for the competition.

She will show off her collection of designs, which merges the elegant drapes found in Middle Eastern clothing with sculptural shapes seen in historical knights’ armor, at CFW Tuesday, March 19.

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