The Savannah College of Art and Design is a well-oiled machine. With a property of about seventy buildings, spread across a campus that reaches every corner of Savannah, a population of more than 11,000 international students earning degrees in just about every fine art field – except music – and locations in Atlanta, Hong Kong and Lacoste it’s a good ole continent all in itself. And its fashion department a highly respected one at that. For the past fourteen years Vogue Contributing Editor, Andre Leon Talley has been presenting the SCAD Lifetime Achievement Award to fashion notables. And the SCAD fashion show draws attention to “the next big names in fashion”.
This year the honor went to Stephen Burrows, an American designer who is rightfully heralded for his work in the seventies. He was part of the disco scene and created colorful, jersey designs “you could dance in”. He was the first to take the lining out of knit garments and asked his models not to wear bras. He’s also known for his fluttering “lettuce” hemline, which was the result of a sewing and stretching mistake. In Savannah he sat down with two of his muses, Pat Cleveland and Bethann Hardison for a discussion panel with students. This became especially interesting (for me) when Bethann leashed out against “those awful Casting Agents”, who started to come up in the late nineties and “changed everything”. According to the panel they have too much power and are the cause of lack of diversity in the modeling world… (If the moderator had passed me the mic we would have had a pretty interesting dialogue….)
The fashion show felt promising. I went in looking for new talent I could wear. My favorites were the big cow print skirt by Julia Patton, the chiffon silk tiered dresses by Haley Beyer and the googly eyes vinyl lavender dress by Kelsey Greifeld. I also loved Madison ‘Moon’ Matney’s weaving technique, the graffiti wool sweaters by Leah Smith and the origami cocktail dresses by Tingting Feng. I think I’ll be calling some of these ladies very soon….
The town of Savannah itself is magnificent and quaint, like a historical fairy tale. I have not been to the South much – just New Orleans and Dallas – but it grows on me every time. The spooky hanging trees, the old plantation homes, downtown’s twenty-one squares and cookie-cutter church tops, they are utterly transporting. I walked for hours, shooting everything I could get in my lens and in focus. I went running in Forsyth Park, had lunch at The Olde Pink House with the crew from New York, went vintage shopping at Wright Square Antique Mall and Civvies, meandered the haunted floors of Alex Raskin Antiques, met SCAD President Paula Wallace, sat down with Mr. Burrows for a one-on-one interview, witnessed Savannah’s yearly Color Run, and ended the last night with a wickedly entertaining drag show at Club One – it’s a must!! Now all I gotta do is find myself a Southern gentleman and get a porch of my own…
Thank you Jamie Rubin at Krupp Group for inviting me, and to all the staff at SCAD who guided us.