Style says a lot about a person. The styles of Susan Albright also say a lot about a place. The place on June 6 was Brookgreen Gardens with dozens of dresses, blouses, shirts and home furnishings on display for the delight of fashion-conscious models and guests.
In the shade of the Leonard Pavilion, Page Kiniry, current Friends of Brookgreen Gardens President and CEO, welcomed Pawleys Island Mayor Brian Henry to the podium at the “Fashion in the Garden” event Saturday morning. Henry served as the runway show emcee, beginning with a little background on Susan Albright’s two-year-old company that features fashions inspired by the natural beauty of the Low Country. “Originally, the introduction of the Arcadia collection was slated for unveiling at the prestigious Charleston Fashion Show back in April,” Henry began, “but as the world turned and we all had to adapt, we will be offering all of you the first glimpse here today.”
Volunteer model Kaitlin Bellune started off the line-up in a Prince George dress crafted with a grey Brookgreen toile print. Her Pawleys pink espadrilles swept her through the pavilion, up the wide aisle, past the shrubbery and the moderator, then out into the sunshine again while Beach Boys music played on the sound system. With equivalent energy and color coordination, the show’s additional 24 models paraded a variety of area-inspired caftans, skirts, blouses, handbags, scarves and sashes as the show progressed into the late morning, raising choruses of “ooh” and “aah” and quite a few “I want that!” comments.
“Loved it! Loved it! I saw so many dresses; I’m gonna’ go to her store and definitely get something. The styles were fresh—I loved the local concept and I’m going to get my husband a shirt that matches my dress,” Friends of Brookgreen member Kimberly Fowler commented.
Spectator Donald Hope, who came to watch his model-wife and model-stepdaughter, was also dazzled by the fashions presented in the natural beauty of Brookgreen. “I like them because they look fun, very beachy and very nice. Actually, I liked Brian’s shirt–with the pink,” he said, referring to the Pawleys toile shirt worn by the mayor. “Of course, it doesn’t matter what I like; my wife has already picked out about three things from when she was back there in the dressing room saying ‘I like this and this and this.’ It speaks to Pawleys Island pretty well.”
After the stream of styles and pictures, Pawleys Island designer Susan Albright took a few minutes to discuss her newly-opened shop across from Fresh Market and her unpredictable path to her “Happy Place.” With a background in interior design, Albright originally began creating textiles for pillows and home décor, “eventually branching out into clothing which I loved,” she said. Albright went on to discuss her use of animal prints, oyster shell patterns, lattice, and egrets in her work that pays a lively homage to places as diverse as Sullivan’s Island and Southport, Connecticut. “It’s just so exciting to see all the girls together and their clothes,” the Brookgreen Gardens sponsor observed.
Looking back on her April debut show which was canceled due to COVID-19, Albright reflected, “I’m old enough to know there’s no point in getting really upset and I just felt that there must be a reason for it: maybe I’ll be better prepared next time. So it worked out and I was just really grateful that Page invited us to do it. I really like to celebrate what’s good in America. We’re all pretty resilient and we do whatever we can do to make things work and to be part of the community.”
Anjana Duff, Friends of Brookgreen Gardens secretary explained the community support for Albright. “We meet four times a year so this was our summer meeting and after every meeting we have an event. This was supposed to be the art festival but it was canceled, so the fashion show was a wonderful substitute –a great treat—and it was fun to be here. The weather’s awesome,” said Duff.
Friends and Events Associate Trish Mulligan provided information about the home décor table that featured specially-created Brookgreen Gardens kitchen and culinary items that will be offered at Keepsakes, the Brookgreen Museum Shop. “We have the tea towels, mugs, stationery and beach towels and we’re also going to be receiving her T-Shirt dresses, so we will be carrying those. “A lot of the items are custom-made, so if you want a certain pattern with a certain edging to it, or different accents or colors, they have local, skilled seamstresses who can change that for you.” Proceeds from the items and ticket sales will benefit Brookgreen Gardens.
Beverages and light refreshments were served by Get Carried Away Catering. Susan Albright fashions may be seen at susanalbrighthappyplaces.com and Brookgreen Gardens information is accessible at brookgreen.org.