I recently had the opportunity to visit the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia to attend the opening of the Little Black Dress exhibit at the SCAD Museum of Art's André Leon Talley Gallery, curated by ALT himself (the Vogue Contributing Editor is a longtime SCAD trustee and student mentor).
Before the opening, our merry little band of art and fashion journalists spent a day touring SCAD's classrooms—and it would not be an understatement to say that we were mightily impressed by the facilities, students, educators and sheer scope of design education on offer.
We started off in the Dye Lab at Pepe Hall, where we watched Fibers Professor Doris Louie show a dozen students how to concoct dyes made from cabbage, beets, onionskin, bark, walnuts and cochineal bugs. Then it was on to the loom room, which is devoted to weaving textiles using incredibly intricate-looking looms (including a state-of-the-art jacquard loom valued at more than $100,000).
We were given a tour of the Industrial Design department in the Gulfstream Center for Design by Professor John McCabe and shown a variety of student projects, from finished kayaks and motorcycles to prototypes for cutting-edge computers, kitchen utensils, dog beds, sunglasses, staplers, camping equipment, coffee makers, vacuum cleaners and lighting fixtures (among other projects in the works).
The Fashion department in the lovely Eckberg Hall was next, where my old pals Michael Fink (Dean of SCAD's School of Fashion Design, and the former Fashion Director of Saks Fifth Avenue) and Carmela Spinelli (Chair of the Fashion/Accessories Departments and former Associate Chair of Fashion at Parsons) walked us through classrooms where students were designing clothing and handbags, draping under the tutelage of Professor Sandra Davidson and drawing flats with guidance from Professor Lara Wolf. SCAD has an annual student fashion show for graduating seniors; I attended one during New York Fashion Week earlier this year and was mightily impressed by the variety of aesthetics and quality of design on the runway. In fact, SCAD is the only university in the United States to offer a full spectrum of accessory design degrees—from B.F.A. to M.A. to M.F.A.—and SCAD's fashion classes top out at 16 students, max.
Then it was on to the Working Class Studio, a product development venture where Sales and Marketing Manager Kyle Milsap showed us some of his team's works-in-progress (think: original stationary and home decor, all of which had a decidedly fun, colorful, of-the-moment vibe that would not feel out of place in the MoMA gift shop). But wait, SCAD has its own gift shop, which we visited just before lunch—and where I indulged in a little holiday shopping and talked myself out of buying some adorably quirky/creepy baby sculptures.
Lunch was followed by a visit to the Jewelry Department at Fahm Hall, where department chair Jay Song gave us a hands-on tutorial on making engraved copper cuff bracelets. I'd taken quite a few jewelry making classes in high school, and our afternoon lesson made me realize how much I missed the joy of creating something by hand, and the satisfaction of wearing something I'd actually designed and made myself.
Naturally, when we reconvened several hours later for the ALT/LBD opening, all of the women in our group were wearing their hot-off-the-presses copper cuffs, each of which was as unique as the person who created it. And, like me, they were all dreaming of chucking it all to go back to school. Such is the lure of SCAD.
photos by Lauren David Peden/The Fashion Informer, 2012