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An Itinerary Tailored to Charleston Fashion Week
London, Milan, New York, Paris and… Charleston! OK, while the city is admittedly not on most short lists of the world’s fashion capitals, it is emerging as one to watch. Leading the charge of elevating the city’s design credentials is Charleston Fashion Week; the 12th annual event will take place in March 2018 (exact dates have not been announced yet), in tents on Marion Square. With 35 runway shows in 2017, it has become a leading showcase for exciting new talents.

Katie Cadar of TravelStore, a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council, has created an itinerary for travelers headed to Charleston for the event that also includes time to explore the best local shopping as well as opportunities to search for design inspiration in its stately homes and historic streets.
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    Day 1
    Arrive in Charleston
    Begin your visit to Charleston by checking into the Belmond Charleston Place and getting settled in your room. (A convenient alternative is the Mills House located at the corner of Queen and Meeting streets.) In preparation for the gauntlets of paparazzi that you may have to outrun in the next few days, spend your first afternoon at the hotel’s spa. The spa menu includes a long list of facials and massages, including the especially appropriate NuFace Microcurrent Facial, the spa’s “red carpet treatment.” Before or after your treatment, take some time get the lay of the land from the hotel rooftop, which also has two pools.

    When you’re ready for dinner, take a short stroll across King Street to Le Farfalle. Chef Michael Toscano opened his restaurant in July 2016, and it’s already become a favorite of many Charleston diners. Excellent housemade pastas and creative craft cocktails keep the tables full.
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    Day 2
    A Shopping Excursion
    If you don’t already have an outfit for the evening’s runway shows, you’ll likely need some assistance quickly navigating the city’s shopping districts. Katie will arrange for a personal shopper to meet you and take you to various designers’ studios and boutiques. Your itinerary will be based on your taste and interests, but some stops may include Mosa on King Street, where shoppers are treated to mimosas (hence the name) to enjoy as they peruse pieces from both local and international designers. Rapport has a low-key welcoming atmosphere, complete with a schnauzer greeting shoppers, but high-fashion labels: Armani, Missoni, and one of Kate Middleton’s favorites, L.K. Bennett. For men, M. Dumas & Sons on King Street is known for its impeccable selection. Open Door Shop, on Line Street just off of King, is the place to shop for fashions for your home, from throw pillows to colorful dishware and linens.

    No one ever said that you have to wait till evening for champagne and oysters. At the end of your morning shopping, let the bubbles go to your head at Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop on King Street.

    Spend your afternoon wandering the Charleston Museum, which has one of the largest collections of textiles in the Southeast. Items from the collection are shown in rotating exhibits on various themes: in August 2017, "Piece by Piece: Geometric Quilts" opened. The show highlights some of the museum’s most beautiful and historic pieces. Other exhibits focus on the history of Charleston and decorative arts.

    Tonight you’ll attend the runway shows on Marion Square, which begin at 8 p.m., though events often take place earlier in the evening, as well as after the shows, at private parties. Katie can provide evening dining and drinking suggestions from white tablecloth restaurants to new cocktail lounges.
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    Day 3
    Get out of Town
    Start your day with shrimp and grits or a biscuit with gravy at Hominy Grill, frequently praised for serving the best breakfast in Charleston. You’ll then take a half-hour drive on the opposite side of the Ashley River to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

    While the focus of your trip may be fashion design, a visit to Magnolia Plantation is a chance to explore design of another sort: landscaping. These were the country’s first public gardens and are a rare surviving example of the Romantic style, which highlights the natural formations of the landscape over the formalism of other approaches to landscape design. The grounds extend over some 60 acres and are especially known for their collection of camellias, which bloom from November to April. Beyond the gardens, the plantation house, slave cabins, and a swamp tour are highlights of a visit to the property.

    Head back to the city and stop by Tabbuli Downtown, behind the Charleston City Market, for a late lunch or snack to keep you going. Always a popular option, its patio is especially lively on sunny days during Fashion Week.

    While away a few enjoyable hours in the shops of Lower King Street, including some of its famous antiques stores like David Skinner Antiques (which specializes in Caribbean pieces) and John Pope Antiques (advance notice is required to visit the store, which Katie can help arrange).

    Tonight you will return to the tents on Marion Square for another evening of Fashion Week.
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    Day 4
    Breakfast and Departure
    After breakfast at your hotel, use the morning for any final visits to shops or sights in Charleston and then head to the airport for your return home.