With a population of fewer than 150,000 people, Savannah, GA presents itself as a sleepy town with vibrant architecture and ‘main street’ personality. There’s not a lot of hustle-and-bustle because it’s neither a metropolitan nor cosmopolitan place… but once a year, the quiet city comes to life with its annual Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD] fashion weekend; a days-long celebration of the university's graduating class.
For the past 40 years, the school has heralded itself as a leading institution for fashion design and style-based studies, with more than 10,000 students being enrolled on an annual basis. The school has campuses in both Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, and each year it produces SCAD Fashion Weekend — a celebration of style with a focus on showcasing the fashion design collections of its graduating seniors.
ESSENCE was recently invited to witness the production of this year’s fashion showcase, and the talent that we saw was very surprising. The weekend started off with a streamlined runway show featuring three design items from each of its fashion design graduates. A plethora of fabrics and varied constructions floated past us as we sat on the elevated runway, and design concepts ranged from feminism to global warming, with clothing constructions that included tulle, chiffon, crystal embroidery, leather, and more.
Each student had the chance to wow the audience with three to four items that they spent the entire semester creating, handpicked by the design faculty, and worn by runway models in a show produced by the school. In addition to the runway show, students also had a chance to sell some of their designs at the SCAD ‘Shop The Runway’ pop-up shop.
Graduating student designer, Adorr Reynolds’ collection incorporated metallic fabrics sewn into wide-legged pants that explored the natural curves of a woman’s body. Her goal was to present an all-pants collection, which she explains “I wanted to reflect how feminine and powerful my design aesthetic is, and I feel like I have accomplished that with my senior thesis collection. My customer is the kind of woman that's very versatile and she loves to mix and match silhouettes and styles.”
Hopping from Savannah, and continuing its production in Atlanta, GA, the university held several additional events to laud the accomplishments of its graduating class, including a style seminar hosted by Vogue.com’s Nicole Phelps and New York-based industry veteran, Derek Lam. Lam was awarded by the school for his namesake label, receiving the SCAD Étoile trophy for his monumental contributions to the fashion industry.
Capping off SCAD Fashion Weekend was a museum presentation of the students’ designs, lifted from the Savannah runway and shown in a more light-hearted, less rigorous manner. The fashion presentation was held at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, and was partly choreographed by J. Alexander (a.k.a. Miss Jay), from America’s Next Top Model.
The Atlanta installation showcased models moving freely about the SCAD museum (in a curated environment), interacting with guests and showing the collections in a more up-close-and-personal manner. While reflecting on the work put into the days-long production, Alexander said, “Between Savannah and Atlanta, the fash weekend was SCADtastic; from designers to models, makeup to hair, runway to vignettes."
Since 1978, the SCAD School of Fashion has offered a balanced curriculum of design and construction, costume history, and merchandising and marketing, where students are encouraged to succeed in global fashion careers. And this past weekend’s events proved that there’s a lot more talent to keep an eye on.