2009 May 20
In 1864, instead of burning the city, as he did all of the cities in his path, Union General William Sherman was so taken with Savannah’s beauty that he offered the city to President Lincoln as a Christmas present. Fast forward 150 years, and General Andre Leon Talley has assembled a battalion of today’s most sought after fashion cognoscenti to descend on Savannah College of Art and Design to mentor and advise students as part of their very prestigious fashion program. His tenure at SCAD has brought the school to the forefront of the world’s stage, or perhaps more appropriately, the world’s runway. Such luminaries such as Tom Ford, Miuccia Prada, and Karl Lagerfeld have all accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award, and this year’s ALT award went to the deserving and very charming Ruben and Isabel Toledo.
We were lucky enough to inaugurate the Style Lab Mentorship program last year with of fashion department chair Anthony Miller. So when given the opportunity to return and report on the program’s second installment with designers Lars Nilsson and Yigal Azrouel, we gladly accepted the invitation.
From the moment of our arrival in this lush southern belle of a city, we knew we were in for a treat as sweet as the candied pralines they are famous for. Our hotel, The Mansion, is an extraordinary brick plantation style estate on Forsythe Park, which set the stage for this weekend of luxury and decadence. The hotel lobby might as well have been the Bryant Park tents filled with editors and buyers. Our good buddies Andrew Bevan from Teen Vogue and Veronica Gledhill from Vogue were already enjoying all that this southern paradise has to offer. We quickly changed and headed towards the Bull Street Chophouse where we chatted, drank and ate at the “meat” and greet. We chatted with the charming and handsome fashion photographer Eli Schmidt, a SCAD alumni who shot the very impressive student lookbook. That evening we headed to Pinkie Masters, our favorite dive bar in town, where the drinks are cheap, and cigarettes are still $5! It is also the location where Jimmy Carter announced his presidential campaign.
The next morning after a quick breakfast (coffee) at 700 Drayton (a former funeral home), we were picked up and escorted to President Paula Wallace’s extraordinary home. After a champagne toast, we headed next door to the former Savannah jail for an outdoor lunch. As we entered, we were handed bento boxes, and then proceeded into the now roofless prison converted into a lush courtyard. All that was missing for this fashion luncheon was custom-designed Ruffian jumpsuits in black and white striped duchess satin! That evening after a delicious dinner at the very elegant Sapphire Grill, we headed to the fashion show at the historic 1950’s Trustees Theatre, converted from a former movie palace. After Andre’s presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to the Toledos, the show began. Lars’ and Yigal’s mentorships were a great success. They carried the Ruffian torch and we were very impressed with their and all of the students’ hard work. The partying did not end here. An afterparty at the River Club, followed by a midnight serenade at Club 1 by Savannah’s legendary drag queens brought this weekend to an operatic close.
Well, no academic escapade is done without a test, so see below the questionnaire we presented to our fellow fashion lovers…
1) If you were to start again and be a student at SCAD, what would you choose as a major?
Andrew Bevan- Industrial Design
Yigal Azrouel- Architecture
Isabel Toledo- Ornamental Horticulture
Ruben Toledo- Calligraphy
Lars Nilsson- Painting/Fine Arts
2) What book most influenced you as a student?
President Wallace- Gone with the Wind
Andrew Bevan- Jude the Obscure
Isabel Toledo- One Hundred Years of Solitude
Rueben Toledo- Mad Magazine
3) How would you best describe your status in school?
Andrew Bevan- Teacher’s pet
Yigal Azrouel- Rock and Roll Rebel
Isabel Toledo- Absent
Rueben Toledo- Nerd
4) Who was your school crush?
Andrew Bevan- Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Yigal Azrouel- Brooke Shields
Lars Nilsson- Morrissey
Rueben Toledo- Isabel Toledo
5) What was your favorite piece of clothing or favorite designer in school?
President Wallace- Charm Bracelet
Yigal Azrouel- Champion Sweatshirt
Isabel Toledo- Granny Boots
Andrew Bevan- Vivienne Westwood
Brian Wolk and Claude Morais
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