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Monday, April 16, 2012

A Day in Charleston

Charleston, 1865

My mother is from Charleston.  For Southerners, we know the importance of this statement.  Charleston has always been and will always remain the Grande Dame of the South - though it's known as The Holy City to South Carolinians.  It embodies the elegance of the South while continuing to grow and stay modern - this is something that most cities, no matter how great, struggle with.  That alone is a reason to put a trip to Charleston on your list.  That and two other reasons: Ben Silver and RTW.

Since before the 1960s Ben Silver was making men's overcoats - that is, until John F. Kennedy dared to walk coatless into the White House.  Mr. Kennedy was apparently not the only trend setter in the family, for the sales of men's overcoats took a nose dive.  Mr. Silver rallied by creating a line of stylish blazers with personal buttons of family crests, University insignia, etc.

These buttons and blazers began a prestigious reputation for the brand, and like Charleston, that reputation continued to grow and modernize.

Though Mr. Silver died in 1978, his son-in-law, Bob Prenner, has created an even bigger business that includes the most beautiful silk neckwear from English silk mills and bespoke suits and tuxedoes that rival those in Savile Row.

Walking into the store is like walking into a gentleman's library.  Located on historical King Street, the store's antiques and dark furnishings are adorned with merchandise, begging you to open drawers, look through bookshelves and wander around in exploration.  Of course, the eyewear could be my favorite component.  Though I am a sucker for a man in tortoise.

Diagonally across the street is a gem of a boutique.  RTW was opened in 1978, and the owner Janyce McMenamin is a dynamo at buying and building a boutique.

Gaultier RTW Spring 2012
You had me at Gaultier.  I have a new love for Jean Paul Gaultier, most likely due to witnessing the Spring Couture show in January.  I find his clothes not only beautiful and sexy but odd and thought-provoking.  And here, in the middle of downtown Historic Charleston was Gaultier staring me in the face.

RTW carries more than Gaultier.  There was also Lanvin - I have been coveting the snake dress for months now.  And I'm always curious to see what prints Dries Van Noten has come up with.  They also carry Jason Wu, Peter Cohen and more - all lines that are hard to find and special to carry.

And I just missed one of their great trunk shows, and one of my fave wardrobe building lines, The Row.
With standard poodles watching over the racks, and turtles from the back garden making a rare appearance, this is a store not to miss.  If you go in, ask for the charming and knowledgeable Jeffery to assist you.

Spending a day in Charleston is full of surprises and scenes of beauty.  A dinner out that night is a necessity for all.  And the culinary arts of Charleston rival that of any city I've personally ever visited.

This night friends and family dined at Hall's Chophouse on the infamous King Street.

The atmosphere reminds me of a sleek New York restaurant served with Southern charm on the side.  A sweet-playing piano welcomes you at the door, and the modern decor inside the old building is a juxtaposition that I always enjoy.

The menu is modern as well.  Creating dishes that are truly Southern yet thrust into 2012 is what to expect. And the bar makes a mean cocktail.

There is no other way to get home from a night on the town other than a black cab - wearing my new Gaultier as a dress, with friend Adrienne in Michael Kors.  Just like Charleston herself: traditional to the roots, beautiful and a transport to another place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Charleston misses you!