If you didn’t make it to the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week this month (you know, the one a few people buzzed about up North), there’s still a chance to get your fashion fix in your own backyard—or at least very close to it. Over the past few years, we’ve watched fashion weeks across the South pop up, and while most have a more down-home feel, don’t think these social gatherings are glamour free.
Here are our five favorite fashion weeks south of the Mason-Dixon line (listed in order of upcoming date). Each one impresses with a full lineup of runway shows, after-parties, and a healthy dose of emerging talent.
1. Birmingham Fashion Week: February 23- March 2
Co-founded only two years ago by Jenna Lee Flemming and local bridal designer Heidi Elnora, the event has grown from a three-night affair to a week full of parties and runway shows featuring local and national designers including Leona, Annie Griffin (who we featured in our March issue), and Lula Kate.
Can’t Miss: The Emerging Designers Competition finale at Pepper Place on March 2, where the best up-and-coming designer is crowned. You’ll also see the latest collection from Georgia native Amy Smilovic of Tibi.
2. NOLA Fashion Week: March 2-9, 2013
The Saratoga Building, an industrial space with exposed brick and a definite touch of New Orleans charm, is the site of the this year’s NOLA Fashion Week. You’ll find an abundance of Southern talent on the runway including designers like Jolie & Elizabeth, Tallulah, and By Smith.
Don’t Miss: Get involved with Fashion U, a selection of educational workshops. From fashion photography to pattern making, industry professionals are available to teach you the tricks of the trade. Classes range $10-$75.
Stylish Stops: Swing by NOLA Fashion Week’s after-party venue, Bellocq (one of Southern Living’s best bar picks of 2013) in The Hotel Modern. Get the local look (eclectic Southern belle) at the hip and contemporary Hattie Sparks and vintage boutique The Revival Outpost.
3. Charleston Fashion Week: March 19-23
Since 2007, Charleston Fashion Week has gained some serious fashion-world cred, helping launch the careers of designers such as Troubadour’s Lindsey Carter (also featured in our March issue) and Hannah Goff.
Don’t Miss: Catch Southern designers K. Cooper Ray of Social Primer and Anne Barge, who will each be showing their collections throughout the week. Both designers will join Saturday’s VIP panel to select this year’s Emerging Designer. Who else is on that panel? Oh, yeah. Project Runway winner Christian Siriano and singer Ashanti.
Stylish Stops: Everyone makes their rounds at the “Style Lounge” opening at 6 p.m. every night with drinks, music, and mini shops. But after the shows, follow the well-heeled crowd to bars such as The Belmont, The Cocktail Club, and The Rarebit.
4. Nashville Fashion Week: April 2-6
Stylish soirees hold court at some of the cities most iconic landmarks, helping showcase Nashville’s diverse cultural landscape as well as its growing design talent. Past runways include the aisles of Crystal Fountain Church and the forefront of the 42-foot-tall gold statue of Athena in Centennial Park.
Can’t Miss: the musical acts. The best part of attending Music City’s fashion week is that you never know who will show up to provide the soundtrack. Last year, members of Kings of Leon deejayed an after-party. The schedule hasn’t been released yet, but check out NFW’s site to get updates on what, who, and where.
Stylish Stops: Nashville’s laid-back look is best obtained at shops such as Old Made Good, which carries a hand-picked collection of vintage and local threads, or Imogene + Willie for rock-star denim sewn on site.
5. Austin Fashion Week: May 3-11, 2013
Known as the quirkiest of the bunch, Austin Fashion Week made waves in the industry for its eccentric theatrics, such as sending models down the runway on bikes and hosting burlesque-inspired after-parties. With more than 50 parties, trunk shows, and runway presentations, you won’t get bored.
Can’t Miss: Noir & Encore, the signature opening event to which everyone wears black. Held at Brazos Hall, a hip turn-of-the-century warehouse downtown, the event includes a three-course dinner served up by local favorites such as Olive & June, Parkside, and The Backspace and is followed drinks and dancing on the building’s rooftop deck.
Stylish Stops: Meet local designers and shop handmade, one-of-a-kind accessories during the “Runways and Marketplace” events May 8-10.