Photo by Rebecca Williams

The second SCAD FASHWKND wrapped up on May 25 with the SCAD Atlanta Fashion Showcase. Held at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, the lobby was packed the second you stepped off the elevator. Excitement was in the air as people crowded in to await their time slot. Once guests checked in, they were given red VIP backstage passes. President Paula Wallace was there, exuberantly mingling with all the guests and snapping photos. Although the showcase was intended to start at 2:30 p.m., the first group of attendees were ushered into a dark room at 3:15 p.m., patiently awaiting the show.

The room, dimly lit and crowded, felt as though you were waiting to go into a haunted house. Noise from the showcase permeated the curtains. A head pops through the fabric — “Hold on,” she said. Minutes later, guests were brought out of the darkness and immediately greeted by energetic music and the blinding flashing bulbs of paparazzi, all yelling to smile and look their way. You look around and realize you’ve been transported out of SCAD FASH and into the 1600 building’s 4C floor — the fashion floor.  The ceiling and walls are covered in multi-colored tape, rainbow bands going down the long halls.

Photo by Rebecca Williams

Miss J. Alexander escorts the group into a room. Its walls are stark white and void of decoration — one of the sewing studios on the floor. Inside there’s a lone model, walking down the path in between the cutting room tables and the industrial sewing machines. Miss J starts describing the process of what goes into creating a collection. We are brought back out to the hallway. Models are encased in clear acrylic stands, only stepping down and walking when Miss J tells them so. The group shuffles down the hall to see models working industrial machines, quickly sewing up garments. Next hair and makeup, and then casting. Finally there is the runway show, although in this case it lasted less than 30 seconds.

Photo by Anya Haber
Photo by Anya Haber

The entire experience, lasting 15 minutes, was an emotional journey intended to show what goes on behind the scenes before the glitz and glamour of the runway show. The showcase doubled as a live play, and the attendees were the invisible flies on the wall. The experience was delightfully strange, leaving you with a “what just happened” feeling as you were pushed out of the showcase and back into reality.

This year’s showcase adopted a shop-the-runway format, as attendees were encouraged to open up an app with the pricing of garments in the showcase. Afterwards, attendees were encouraged to enter SCAD FASH to view the latest exhibitions and purchase designer items in the film salon.

Photo by Anya Haber

Not everyone was impressed by this experimental showcase. “I thought it was awful compared to last year. It didn’t start on time, it was really crowded where we were waiting. The showcase was too dark and you couldn’t see the garments,” said third-year fashion student Amanda Mangroo. “Last year we could see the garments and take a look — they weren’t rushing us. We were pushed up against a wall and it was really hard to see. It was just unorganized and you couldn’t get a feel for the garments up close and personal. It seemed really unprofessional.” This sentiment was echoed by others as well. Graduate photography student Lindsey Max said, “I thought that their intentions were good and creative, but I was disappointed that the format didn’t really allow me to see everyone’s looks. It felt very rushed to me and I really wanted to see my friends’ work and I didn’t get to.”

First-year photography student Tyler Judson enjoyed the show despite its admitted flaws. “I thought it was awesome. I enjoyed how it wasn’t just a standard fashion show. Making the viewers involved in the show portrayed a small glimpse on how the fashion world feels. Fast paced, loud, ever-changing and chaotic,” he said. “The only downside was that, while the fashion world is so fast paced it would’ve been nice to see the clothes in detail rather than have the pass by in a blur. It didn’t give us enough time to appreciate the garments.”

A model working the show echoed the same sentiments as the guests — “I think it would have been more successful had we have had more time to prepare and practice. From what I can gather most people enjoyed the show but of felt rushed and like they could not necessarily see the clothing. This year the show seemed to be more about showmanship instead of the senior collections. And if we’re being honest, the clothes are what people come to see. I think making the Atlanta show its own event on a separate weekend would be a better plan for the future.”

The general consensus was that, while inventive, the SCAD Atlanta Fashion Showcase failed to serve its main purpose — showcasing the intricate garments fashion students had slaved over for a year. Ironically so, given the showcase revolved around a premise of shedding light on the time-intensive process. The Atlanta showcase is still young. Perhaps its third year will correct the errors of the past and perfectly blend creative vision and the intimate close-up feel that gives showcases an edge over runway shows.