Eight original pieces from the collection of a clothing designer from Bamberg was featured on the runway at the Columbia Fashion Week show on June 23.
RaQuel Duncan, a young woman of numerous talents and skills, is the creator of the RaQuel Kristen clothing line.
"My first name is RaQuel and my middle name is Kristen. I thought why not name my clothing line after myself as it has a nice ring to it," Duncan said.
She said she began creating fashions when she discovered she had a gift and the originality that was missing in women's clothing.
"God blessed me with the gift of designing and sewing. I told myself I have to put my talents to work," Duncan said. "I also wanted to help young ladies and women feel confident in clothing. This brings me so much joy."
In addition to being a fashion designer, Duncan is a funeral director with Carroll Mortuary in Bamberg.
She graduated in 2005 from Bamberg-Ehrhardt High, where she played volleyball. In 2009, she earned her associates degree in Mortuary Science from Piedmont Tech.
In addition, Duncan earned her certification as a nursing assistant at Denmark Technical College in 2011 and went on to graduate cum laude from Claflin University with a degree in business in 2014.
Her custom clothing line is catered to women who want to look and feel their best, Duncan said.
"I have designed fitted dresses, bodysuits and jackets. I love working with sequins and various patterns of fabric that will turn heads," she said.
She's always danced to the beat of her own drum, especially in her personal clothing choices, Duncan said.
"I wanted to be different and unique. I didn't want anyone wearing the same garments as me," she said. "Coming from a small town, there are only a few stores and seldom selections to choose from. I did not want to go to an event and see someone wearing an outfit that I had on. So, that is when I went to work."
Duncan said she is inspired by many designers, noting that one in particular has captured her interest.
"I am inspired by Zelda Wynn Valdes. I can relate to her as she started small and went on to sew gowns for celebrities. She is most famous for the Playboy bunny costume," she said.
"What impressed me most about her is that she designed and sewed her clothing just like I do. We have similar styles because she also likes to make form-fitting clothing that shows a woman's figure."
The opportunity to show her work during Columbia Fashion Week was a dream come true, Duncan said. The work of artists and designers from all over the Carolinas and the U.S. were showcased at the event, she said.
"I definitely felt accomplished to experience this. To see my designs (on) the runway was so fulfilling to me, Duncan said. "Most people would be nervous, especially if it was their very first time being (at) Fashion Week. I, however, wasn't nervous. I was proud, happy, excited and confident. I was prepared, and I am ready to do more fashion shows."
She said she has been sewing for three years and still uses her very first sewing machine that she purchased from Walmart.
"It is still working," Duncan said, laughing.