A La Mode

Fashions fade; style is eternal. Yves Saint Laurent

Frock me running


On August 19, 2019, I received a text message from a young lady who works at a certain store in Charlotte, North Carolina

“You and MP better be coming to the Fashion Show!”

My reply, “What fashion show?”

“You got an invite via email”

“Must be in my junk/spam”

“It was sent to your regular email Check it and lemme know”

So, I checked spam/clutter/junk and found the Paperless Post Invitation

You’re invited to the Capitol Fall/Winter Presentation

Tuesday, September 24, 2019



4010 Sharon Road


Got it

Quick calls to MP

A few texts later

I reply


What does one wear?

I know

Clothes from said store

Day trip to Charlotte to support our pals who run the place, work there, make it happen

Again, I really don’t know why they like us

Still trying to figure that one out some 32 years of friendship later

So, it was off for a day trip to a fashion show in Charlotte among the fashionable, with a couple Lowcountry kids sprinkled in just for fun

I have never attended a fashion show


Well, may be there was that one at Andover back in ’89

We’re always up to help a pal and show up hoping we won’t embarrass

As I texted our hostess’s husband, “I don’t want to look like country come to town”

His reply, “Never. I invented country come to town”

I think we were suitably attired among all the beautiful people

Got some compliments anyway

So, after another drop off at school, we were in the car to the Queen’s City

On arrival, we killed some time

Got something to drink

Then, sent a text to our hostess

“You want us?”

“Come over! Champagne and wafers!”

She meant she was serving bubbly wine and cheese biscuits, the kind with the pecan on them, made by Sarah Wrenn her own self

Arriving at the store, the doyenne herself was out front greeting

Peels of laughter and delight as we walk up,  “Oh, well, look who’s here! Heeeeyyy. Thank y’all for coming. Oh, I can’t thank y’all enough! Get some champagne! Oh, by the way, fashion shows last like eight minutes. Sorry to disappoint.”

“It’s o.k.; we have to get back for a volleyball game at 7:30”

“Don’t worry. You’ll TOTALLY make that”

So, there we were, champagne in hand at 11:15 on a Tuesday morning

“Laura, I’m feeling like a total dilettante”

“Stop it”

So in went on in to Capitol

We walked in and it was kind of like being Norm Peterson when he used to walk into that bar known as Cheers. It’s always like that there for us




Everyone knows us and is glad to see us

Or they feign it really well

Decades of friendship pay dividends

Upon being greeted by our pal Wizzie Irvin, she showed us our section and told us where to sit on the removable benches

“Is this for a soccer game later?” I asked

“No,” replieed the Wizz.  “That’s where you sit. Y’all sit right here. Put your stuff down on these two seats.  Best view.  Hamlin, you better take notes”

Don’t worry, Wizz


No, the lady on the left is not smoking, vaping, or juuling


Before the big event, we worked the room

Spoke to some of the folks


Sipping on the bubbly

Refilling the glasses

Drinking water, too, after the long drive

Mainly wanting to hang with our pals who are hosting

“Where the hell is your husband?” I inquired of the hostess

“He’ll breeze in like two seconds before this starts”

Ran into an old college pal, “I thought I might see y’all here. Do you ever work? You write all the time and travel all the time”

“That social media can be deceiving. Was at my office for six hours last Saturday. Do I work? All the damned time”

Hugs and kisses all around

Back outside for more water where a Beaufort family’s in-law’s in-law is running late, shoes in hand

Introductions made all around

Oh, the South

“Y’all, this is not the Charlotte I grew up in! But, now, I just go with it!” said the in-law’s in-law

We are politely corralled into our seats by ladies with iPads and sweet smiles

Best seat mates on either side of us

One is a lovely lady from Charlotte who used to work at the store who it was really great to meet in real life

On the other side of MP was an attorney who lives in Charlotte who was wearing a turban


A turban

So chic

So Nick Cannon

Her best friend from law school used to work with me and now works with my wife

Oh, the South

Three lawyers at a fashion show on a Tuesday….NBD



“Please put your phones on airplane mode”

People already had their phones out

So many grabs to be had

“You’re gonna love this playlist, Hamlin” said Scott Newkirk, the impresario of this opera

Then it all began

There were Twenty Two Looks

I took notes on most of them

I circled a coat that MP liked

It sold in five minutes after the show

Our favorite model told us she could not look at us or she was going to laugh

I do that to people

They see me and laugh

Our eldest daughter would have rocked Look 9, which was a mini dress by Cecilie Bahnsen, whoever that is

The Brilliant Belgian Baron van Noten does not advertise

The show was a big advertisement for his creations




Eccentricity on display

Like the men’s tie-dye trench coat that if it were worn by any normal man, his backside would be kicked

There were men’s clothes from Tabor, the brother store of Capitol

The Gryffindors at Hogwarts crafted one of the men’s looks in their Common Room one night

Everyone wants to be a Gryffindor

I saw a sweater I purchased featured in that one

I’m so not on trend that I’m on trend

At Look 15, The Breeders’ heavily breathed “Cannonball” blared through the speakers

I know that was just a head nod to me

After the show I said as much

“Oh, yeh, we did that just for you,” said our hostess facetiously

“Actually, I did think of you when I added that one song to the list. We’ve talked about the Pixies in Charleston one time,” said the impersario




Looks continued with

sequin bedecked draped columns

maxi skirts

horse prints

Roksanda open backs

Irene Neuwirth’s jewels everywhere


One of the looks could have used more cow bell

Then at the end, glamour

Looks 20 through 21

Giambatitista Valli Haute Couture


The playlist had turned to arias for the last three looks

As well it should have

Each dress was its own designed descant

The Prima Donna


As the last glimpse of gray Italian tulle turned the corner, those assembled began a polite golf clap

As the models went around for one last showing, the clapping increased

Then, everyone was up from their benches as though the coach said, “Clear the bench”

Less than 18 minutes start to finish

The staff and the owners hustled the benches outside

Influencers began to take pictures of the haute couture assembled before the garden wall

So many head shots

So many posts

So many hashtags

So many stories

So many pretty women

^^^^  all her vision….that one there in the simple white shirt


We talked to some folks and milled around

“Are you Hamlin? I’m Susan. We met you at the 20th anniversary party.”

“Of course!” I said, “Wow that was during the fireworks”

“Kind of late, eh?”

“Your family’s place; it’s lovely”

“If you ever wanna go out and shoot, call me”

“If you’re ever in Charleston, call us”

Conversations like that

A lovely lady stopped me and said, “Hamlin, I’m Sarah. I listened to Laura’s podcasts with you. I could listen to the two of you all day.  You should have your own podcast. I’m serious.”

“Aren’t you nice,” I replied

“I’m not kidding. Your episodes with her are the best ones. So natural. So funny.”

MP smiled and said “That’s no act, either. That’s how they are all the time in their conversations.”

“Well, you should do your own. I’d totally listen.”

Her lips to God’s ears

By then, I was kind of starving

Our hostess made the rounds

And, we made it round to the corner with the cheese biscuits

Right there

The kind my mother and mother-in-law make

These have a lot of cayenne

That’s the key

And they were tucked away by some Golden Goose shoes

Silver and gold


As I stood stuffing my mouth, I watched a lot of ladies preening and prancing and putting on clothes

A lot of peacocks


A lot of peacocks

Confirmed by a Charlottean who used that hash tag

Her husband is one of MP’s cousins


Introduced a Hamlin by marriage to my bride

Love to meet a fellow Hamlin

Even if it is by marriage

Her ex-husband might be one of my cousins


We visited with some other folks for a while, including a lady who lives in Charleston

Her husband, too, is one of MP’s cousins


“This is hilarious. We should do something together soon back home. I can just see you in that tie dyed coat at the club, Hamlin”


Finally, our hostess made her way over, and we visited for a bit

A lovely Charlotte lady informed our hostess of the following:

“Laura, these are my new best friends. I’m serious. How long are y’all here? I want y’all to come over for a drink!”

“We are leaving shortly”

“Well, dang,” says the new best friend

I replied, “MP is the one you want in this deal”

Laura agreed


I mentioned our departure

“Y’all don’t go. Stay. Really. Have some more champagne. Stay. Really”

“We can’t”

“Really. Don’t leave me. Grab a water”

“But you’re leaving later, too. What time you flying out?”


“Well, see, you have to leave shortly anyway”

“I live two seconds from here. Don’t go”

She meant it

We hung out a little bit longer

“By the way, uh, where did your husband go? I didn’t even get to talk to him,”

“Oh, he got out of here super fast. Probably right back to the office. Y’all can’t go”

Crestfallen visage with soft smile

So, we hung out a little bit longer

Then we pulled the plug

“I love y’all so much,” said our hostess. “It means the world that y’all came. Really. The world.”









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