Reported by Kenya Smith – Editor-at-Large FAN
It was a beautiful evening in Paris, France Sept 29th on a Thursday. Paris Fashion Week was in full Swing with all of the Fashion World’s finest in town to watch the spectacle of the top brands showing their brilliant ideas for 2017. In a newly renovated venue on the exclusive shopping boulevard of George V, building 30, something very special was happening. Supima, an American organization that promotes the use of ELS (Extra Long Grain Staple) cotton fiber grown in the southwest United States, sponsored a competition for young design students to create a fashion line using the cotton material known as American Egyptian for it high strength and silky feel.
“It is all in the way it grown!!” exclaims the newly minted chairman of Supima, Mr. Ted Sneey, “you see we get the extra sunlight in the southwest and just enough water. It makes for a really strong fiber you don’t get in most parts of the world.” Fashion Avenue News (FAN) asked, what was the goal of the competition and who are the competitors usually?
“Well it’s like this” he replies in deep western drawl wearing a crisp white shirt and a handsome bullwhip tie encrusted with a red turquoise holder to keep it together, “we want to promote the ELS product as the best in the world”, he says proudly, “and we see value in investing in young fashion designers to create new ideas with our cotton. We especially proud of these young people who do all this hard work and make such spectacular designs so early in their career.”
According to the Supima Website, “Six of America’s top design schools (FIDM, FIT, Kent State, Parsons School of Design, RISD, SCAD) are asked to select one finalist from among their graduating seniors. Each finalist is asked to create a capsule collection of women’s eveningwear gowns from premium Supima denims, knits, corduroys, twills, and shirting”. The grand prize for the competition is $10,000.00 and a runway show at New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week. The Venue for this evening was stunning. Not only did each competitor have their own separate area to show their submission but the winner had a automated fashion runway show. Complete with robotic figures on an overhead rack that continuously rotated around a runway while a giant video screen displaying images from the New York Fashion Week Show.
This year’s winner, who was a delight to meet and interview, was JEFFREY TAYLOR, a young African- American design student attending the highly regarded southern powerhouse known as SCAD (Savanna College of Art and Design) which was founded in 1978 and has degree granting locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. The initial purpose of the school was to provide of degrees in design that at the time were not offered in the south-eastern parts of the United States. SCAD can now boast such notable graduates as singer, India Arie, rapper recording artist DANNY, and author Lisa M. Robinson of the classic children’s book “Snowbound”. While no fashion icons have previously emerged, Jeffrey seems to be well on his way to be a significant addition to the alumni pool.
Jeffrey himself, a well spoken and reserved young man, seemed to be taking the evening in stride. His shy demeanor took a back seat to the fact that this designer had worked very hard on his submission and he knew the aspects of his work backward and forward. He spoke with confidence and a smooth style as he talked about each piece to the evening’s guests. “I wanted to represent the beauty of Tibet and Tibetan women” he said as he pointed to the first automated robot model coming down the runway.
“Wow” is the only thing FAN can say at the moment of being blown away by not only the depth from which this young man is pulling his design motif together, but also the coolness being displayed by the robots.
“We are very proud of Jeffrey”, boasted Mr. Sneey, filling his chest with air before he spoke, “this is the second year that SCAD produced a winner from our competition and we have been doing this for 9 years!! We see a bright future for him”
Jeffrey was joined by his loving parents, Moses and Kathryn Taylor, who flew in from Savanna to attend the event. With the flash bulbs and attention that their son was receiving, it was apparent that they were relieved that the choice he made to go to design school was paying off, and they couldn’t be prouder of their son.
“Jeffrey is really on his way” said his father. FAN asked “did you expect any of this when he applied to design school?’ Jeffery mother replied it was beyond their dreams and they were extremely happy that their son was finding success in his own way. FAN noticed that they both could burst for joy for their son, and maybe a little tear was forming from Dad.