So you want to be a designer… an illustrator… a jewelry maker… an animator… you want to be a buyer for SAKS, animate characters for Pixar or make jewelry for Tiffany & Co… but how does one begin? What is that first step on the road to forever? Enter SCAD.
I don’t have a lot of regrets; I find it a waste of energy to regret something, and yet… I regret I did not go to school at Savannah College of Art and Design. I have toured the campus twice, that’s how impressed I am with it. I’ve made friends throughout the years with SCAD graduates and know many colleagues who have SCAD alumni working with them. I hear their name in the creative industry more than any other!
Let’s talk about the campus – first off, there are SCAD campuses not only in Savannah, but in Atlanta, Lacoste, France, and Hong Kong (um, amazing). But the main campus in Savannah is so beautiful I just can’t help but admire it…nestled in historic downtown Savannah, Georgia (you *know* how I feel about that) SCAD has saved and renovated / restored / preserved 70% of the historic buildings. I’m always one for subtle inspiration and I find that a college interlacing perfectly into a city, tucked away behind plaster moulding from the 1800s and beautiful old wooden floors, to be beyond inspiring. The Fashion Marketing building was so beautiful and so whimsically decorated with its wall of eclectic paintings and research room with a fireplace and bookshelf of artifacts that I told our guide it was just rude the students get to have such beauty.
So here we are in my beloved Savannah; let me take you on a tour of one of the most impressive creative institutions I know…
Before we “go to class”, let’s talk about first impressions - they say that’s everything, right?
While we were down in Savannah, everyone was abuzz about SCADstyle, a campuses-wide event happening April 14th-17th which brings together luminaries from the worlds of fashion, jewelry, interior design and other fields for a series of discussions and lectures about the state of design and fashion. This time guests include fashion designer Alexander Wang, renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, and Domenico De Sole, Chairman at Tom Ford. I want to go back just to hear the digital content panel with Sally Singer, Quentin Jones, Cass Bird (OBSESSED), Sara Moonves and Arnaud Boutin! Even our friends from Dannijo will be speaking!
I’m sure all of these people will walk through SCAD’s main admissions building and why would they not?… it’s GORGEOUS.
One of my *favorite* things about SCAD is how they fill the buildings, halls, shops, restaurants, and town with student and alumni work. The piece I always take a moment to look at each time we are in Savannah is in the admissions building; it is a sculpture of a bee which I find amazing and here is why:
Bees should be extinct.
Natural selection should have eradicated them centuries ago, scientists say. Their bodies are too big for their wings. This is SCAD’s mascot; so chosen because it was widely held that the bee should not be able to aerodynamically fly, yet it does; the school was not expected to do well when it started 35 years ago and yet…it does. The principle the college was founded upon was to give students with interest and passion a chance…to fly…even if they weren’t yet aerodynamically prepared.
A couple of years ago I was sitting at Prabal Gurung’s show and I met the man sitting next to me – he was charming and intelligent, and by the end of the conversation I learned that he was Michael Fink, the Dean of Fashion at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Fast forward and here we are, talking about the fashion program of SCAD and reminiscing about that first day we met. He was formerly the Women’s Fashion Director at SAKS for 15 years and now he talks about his student’s work with as much passion as if he just saw a Jason Wu runway show. One of the points he made I found incredibly compelling was that he sees each senior fashion design student’s collection three times throughout the year to advise them and help ultimately guide their success. I asked him where students go on to work after they graduate from the program and as he begin to rattle off a list of the most famous U.S. designers and brands I cut him off and said, “So… basically there are SCAD fashion design alumni everywhere.” and he laughed and said yes.
The fashion design program in Savannah has 400 students in classes that cover fashion illustration, design and accessories. Senior students make six looks for a collection by hand, which they submit to a juried show. Twenty industry professionals narrow the total submissions down to 20 students who are invited to show their collections in a runway show that is well attended by both the local community and recruiters from top fashion houses.