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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SCAD 2012 Fashion Show, Exhibits, and Events.

A permanent affection for fashion design was my motivation for attending the SCAD 2012 Fashion Show.  My husband and I attended the 2009 show and decided  to return this year.  We like to absorb everything around us through travel and museum visits - and we like seeing pop culture trends and creativity in action.

We didn't arrive in a limousine or designer clothing.  Our first stop was SCAD's Jen Library - where a librarian discreetly informed me I'd been traipsing about with my skirt tucked into my underpants.  After that bit of excitement, I was immediately drawn to the Static Fashion exhibit - which displayed innovative designs of graduating fashion students.  Although the work of these students did not appear in the fashion show, I appreciated their designs as much as those boasted by the runway later that evening.

Free of human locomotion - and without the distraction of sound -  these designs offered interesting fabric surfaces, whimsical structure, and artistic seam-lines.  This blue dress by Trang Luu reminded me of a blue morning glory with unfurling petals.  And the combined textures of nubby wool, satin, and chiffon were pleasantly unexpected.
Trang Luu Design at SCAD's Jen Library.  Photo Toile La La.
Barbara Molitor Design at SCAD's Jen Library.  Photo Toile La La.
Barbara Molitor's ivory dress also revealed clever construction (over the abdomen - a graceful arc line with an interrupted "pocket" seam-line).  Incorporating a vintage necklace, the boat-neck dipped to a cowl shape at upper back (reminiscent of a geisha's robe).  I made several admiring revolutions around Trang Luu's and Barbara Molitor's designs.

Granted, library visits may not top your travel itinerary, but think about it - a library is one big box full of knowledge.  I like walking right to my favorite GT and TT sections without worrying about computer glitches or having to be stuck in a chair staring at a screen.

En route to sections TT and GT, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw several shelves labelled "Staff Picks" and every book was fashion-related!  (This is very silly - but I have to tell you - the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah pops into my head at such moments!)
Some Jen Library staff picks at SCAD.  Photo Toile La La.
Browsing the book  Ralph Rucci:  The Art of Weightlessness (Steele, Sauro, Mears) was a good preview for our next stop - The SCAD Museum of Art, where the Andre Leon Talley Gallery exhibited "Looking Back to the Future:  Ralph Rucci Evolved".
 Ralph Rucci Design in ALT Gallery of SCAD Museum of Art.  Photo Toile La La.
Ralph Rucci Designs in ALT Gallery of SCAD Museum of Art.  Photo Toile La La.

Ralph Rucci Designs in ALT Gallery of SCAD Museum of Art.  Photo Toile La La.
Ralph Rucci Design in ALT Gallery of SCAD Museum of Art.  Photo Toile La La.
Ralph Rucci Design in ALT Gallery of SCAD Museum of Art.  Photo Toile La La.

Because our tickets were for the 4PM fashion show, we had minimal museum time - but I was intrigued by Fred Wilson's presentation of the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art and would have enjoyed close observation of the many historical documents, letters, and photographs in particular.  Luckily, before rushing to the show, we were able to attend a good portion of the panel discussion "A Conversation with Andre Leon Talley, Ralph Rucci, and Robin Givhan".

Andre Leon Talley (Vogue Contributing Editor and SCAD Board of Trustees Member) would later that evening present his Lifetime Achievement Award to Ralph Rucci (Couturier, of 30 years in fashion industry) - and the discussion was led by Robin Givhan (Pulitzer prize-winning fashion journalist and Daily Beast style and culture special correspondent).
From left:  Talley, Givhan, and Rucci - at Savannah College of Art and Design.  Photo Toile La La.
Hearing Ralph Rucci's design-perspective made his creations seem even more powerful.  Rucci professed he does not work with trends, but tries to develop a style language and improve on it with each season.  During this conversation, his advice to upcoming fashion designers was to be an individual, to simplify and reduce design to its essence - to find its strength, to find the design DNA.

The panel of three also discussed how internet has impacted fashion design.  Andre Leon Talley proclaimed, "Emotion has been struck down for immediacy", which led the group to agree that fashion is moving at a speed which makes it harder to appreciate and "absorb" the work of designers.

Robin Givhan prompted the panel's discussion of designer fashion, saying clients realize they pay for the designer's intelligence and knowledge of fashion history.  I regretted having to leave before the conversation came to a conclusion, because it was well-moderated, interesting, and informative - but, it was time to leave for the student show and I hoped there would be an opening performance such as I'd seen in 2009.

Shown to a full house at Trustees Theater, the student collections were marvelously-presented and accompanied by an energetic soundtrack.  It is very exhilarating to feel perched at the apex of newness - and that is exactly the sensation we sought when returning for this year's SCAD fashion show.  I think you can best experience the show by viewing it.  Here's the link.  I discovered the student designers' names on the screens along the runway - only after we'd returned home and I was watching the show online.  (Note to future event organizers and programme designers:  I think it would be very helpful to include alongside their names a small image of each designer's most representative piece.)

Here are the most distinctive features or looks of the entire show... presented in a stream-of-consciousness style:  blinding pure fluorescent white, neutral taupe black and grey leathers, jacket-focus renaissance velvet, piping, military olive, tree bark metallic, banding, studded shoes, fabric overlay, cloud-like, satin Hollywood, space age plastic, ochre-yellow and orange, zouave, double-circle collar, emphasized fanny, "ADMIT ONE" children's ticket shirt, shocking fluorescent yellow and neoprene scuba, sequins, tuxedo treatment, black blue rust-orange futuristic uniform, layered brick-like colors and organzas, orange fur navy fur - engulfed in blue, pokeberry-ink (phytolacca) fuschia, chrysanthemum / puffball mushroom.

More simply stated: The fashion show was a rapidly-presented rush of color, shape, and sound.

A happy Karis Fox, after the SCAD 2012 Fashion Show.  Photo Toile La La.
After the show, I took a few photographs outside the theater.  Among the collections, some of my  favorite pieces belonged to designer Karis Fox - whose work inspired these hastily scribbled notes:  blue cocoon coat, hip drape, changeable blue / green, beautiful changeable lavender triple-tiered funnel-neck.  Perhaps those notes will help you spot her lovely designs in the fashion show video, but I can only offer this mysteriously-chic, Madame Gres-type image of Karis - wearing a brilliant purple turban.

After the SCAD 2012 Fashion Show.  A beautiful fuschia dress leaving beside its designer.  Photo Toile La La.
SCAD 2012 Fashion Show.  Designer alongside model.  Photo Toile La La.
(Imagine the hours it must have taken to create all the frills of the dress above - which for lack of a better description I must compare to a chrysanthemum or a puffball mushroom.  Making her appearance in it - the model delivered a truly dramatic presence.)

It was impossible to move quickly enough to photograph everything of interest.  I must at least mention how impressive were the collections of Kia Brinkley (particularly the engulfed-in-blue dress / muff ensemble), Patricia Garcia (how clever to create an outfit which arrives in one color - and exits in another!), Sarah Pankiewicz (for the easily elegant tunic / legging ensembles, great prints, and wavy-panelled coat), and Lindsey Smith (for her interesting silhouettes and shape-pairings). 

Browsing the programme, I see these young designers hail from a diverse array of states and countries.  At the evening show, after receiving the Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award, Ralph Rucci commended Savannah College of Art and Design for allowing students to think in "out-of-world" terms.  Rucci explained such a learning environment will produce designers who benefit history and contribute to a "larger picture of thinking outside the box".

Robin Givhan so impressed me with her participation in the Conversation with Andre Leon Talley and Ralph Rucci, I searched for more "Conversation" - related articles online.  The search produced a Robin Givhan interview by Jessica Leigh Lebos in Connect Savannah (May 15, 2012), which led to Huffington Post and Toronto Star fashion blog discussions - that revealed Givhan would like to see bloggers be forthright in stating their credentials and affiliations.  So, I feel compelled to reveal:  I am not affiliated with any fashion publication - or Savannah College of Art and Design.  Nor am I receiving any "perks" for writing this post.  I am an artist and writer - very interested in fashion, history, and pop culture trends.  I sew and therefore notice the work of other people who sew or design.

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