3 posts tagged "SCAD"
Today I’m in sunny Saint-Tropez for Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Resort show, but last Thursday I was in hot and balmy Savannah at the city’s College of Art and Design for a panel discussion with Ruffian’s Brian Wolk and Claude Morais (that’s us onstage). Sandwiched between Keegan Singh’s talk on styling and Hamish Bowles’ lecture on collecting couture, my Ruffian pals and I spoke about the relationship between designers and critics. The students had plenty of tough questions: What do you base your reviews on (for my part, it’s primarily about how the current collection compares to the designers’ previous work, and secondly, how it fits within the context of the season), are you easier on young designers than more established ones (constructive criticism is our specialty), and, for the Ruffians, how do reviews affect what you do the next season? Apropos of that, on a tour of Flannery O’Connor’s modest childhood home, the guide told us O’Connor’s collected Complete Stories won the National Book Award in 1972, eight years after her death. Brian and Claude joked that it was a good lesson to remember when the tough reviews come in.
Savannah is known for its old-world charm, and now that I’m down here—for the Savannah College of Art and Design’s annual Reveal Festival, which brings fashion types down to the Georgia city for a week of lectures and discussions—I can attest to it firsthand. I was in town for a talk called “Sartorially Speaking” with Decades’ Cameron Silver, debating the pros and cons of vintage (pro: the chances are slim that someone will show up in the same dress; con: although it’s “green,” recycling old clothes doesn’t exactly nurture new talent, which there’s plenty of here at SCAD). After our chat (and a quick signing of my book, of course), we had dinner at The Olde Pink House, a charming Southern restaurant housed in an original William Jay structure, one of the oldest in Savannah. It was there that I met the legendary Bettina, seen here with Gil Donaldson, Merchant Ivory Films’ Savannah-born, Paris-based president. Gil (a board member of SCAD) befriended the model in France and convinced her to make this Southern pilgrimage.
Talk about old-world charm. Now in her mid-eighties, Bettina is not only a quick-witted vision, she’s a living history of the fashion industry in the years after WWII. We’re talking Irving Penn and Richard Avedon portraits here—even her nom de couture, Bettina, was a pet name coined by Pierre Balmain himself. (She was born Simone Micheline Bodin Graziani.) Bettina came to Paris from the countryside and was immediately discovered for her “quick-paced, distinctive” walk, as she described it, and the unique facial features that she would—get this—make up herself for fashion shows and shoots. Not that doing one’s own hair and makeup, and bringing one’s own shoes and stockings, has been the biggest progression in the industry. Bettina also told me that shows would last for up to two hours, girls would wear 20 dresses in one couture presentation, and she would be in and out of those garments in seconds. I asked her if it was as romantic as I imagine it. “Yes, absolutely,” she said. “It was the best job a girl could have asked for. When I think back, even the smell in the couture salons was fabulous.”
That volcano in Iceland has been cramping everyone’s style lately, and the Savannah College of Art and Design is no exception. Two of the recipients of last night’s 2010 SCAD Style Étoile Awards, Catherine Deneuve and Sir David Tang, had to cancel their trips. But the show went on. Luckily for Tang, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (pictured, with Michael Douglas), was in town and perfectly willing to accept on her half brother’s behalf—although even she nearly didn’t make it. “I’ve run down the street,” Fergie explained from the podium, where she was still catching her breath.
Once she did, she quoted Lord Chesterfield from Tang’s speech: “Style is the very clothing of thought”—an appropriate sentiment for a small-scale evening devoted to celebrating, in SCAD president Paula Wallace’s words, innovators “who change the way we walk, we talk, we think.”
Among them: Graydon Carter, Peter Arnell, and decorators John Rosselli and Bunny Williams. The well-connected design school is also gearing up for the ten-day series of lectures and events it will be hosting later this month on its Georgia campus, an annual meeting of fashion minds that has introduced the likes of Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, and John Galliano to home-fried Southern hospitality in the past. “It’s always inspiring. I love the questions and also to give those kids a bit of hope and some realness,” Ruffian’s Claude Morais explained. “We also get a lot of our interns from SCAD, too,” his partner, Brian Wolk, added. So does interior designer Jonathan Adler: “I have a whole cadre of them working for me,” he said.
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