So tell us who you are, where you’re from and how you got connected into this amazing opportunity here at the SCAD Museum of Art.
My name is Caroline McCoy, I’m a Master of Fine Art in Fashion student at SCAD. I also got my bachelor’s degree from SCAD in 2020. I grew up in a small town in the upstate of South Carolina called Walhalla.
Did your life focus around fashion at that point? Did you know from an early age this is what you wanted to do?
Growing up in a small town, everything was all about sports, and I loved playing sports. But I knew there was, like, a creative side to me too. And even before I even knew what fashion was, my mom tells me that I would go to, like, kindergarten and she would let me dress myself. And nothing would match! (Laughs)I wanted to wear every color of the rainbow. And she said it was always different and interesting. I never stuck with what anyone else was wearing. So then, going through school when they would make us take those ‘career tests’, they always put me in the arts. But I guess I never really realized I could major in fashion, just growing up in a small town. But once I came to SCAD, I fell in love!
You said you were into sports. did you play any sports at SCAD?
I did not. My family owned a golf course, and for awhile growing up, I maybe considered playing in college, and then decided not to.
But that leads us into your focus, your design focus is on athletic wear, right?
I immersed myself in everything, so that I could get a better idea of what my focus should be. But when Covid hit, I started playing golf more—I guess like everybody did. But it was then that I realized how badly I wanted to design athletic wear that fit both into the golf and tennis worlds, and isn’t hit on like yoga and running.
So tell us about this exhibit, was it a surprise that you’d get to work on it, or were you planning this with SCAD for a while?
I was asked to work on it through my department. There was word that there was an opportunity to help out—they wanted somoene with a fashion background. I got in touch with a few people in Atlanta, specifically Rafael Gomez, who is the curator, and we started working on the project. And it turned out to be a lot more than I expected, but I mean that in the best way possible.I was thinking I was coming in and I was going to be in the background moving stuff. I didn’t realize I was going to be so close to these garments and I was going to be taking care of them, and placing them and helping see this exhibition come to life—as well as meeting people, like Christian Siriano’s assistants. Getting that one-on-one time, and working with them and seeing how everything comes together, not only from SCAD’s perspective here, but from the designer’s perspective—just seeing a whole new vision—that was my favorite part for sure.
How long has this been in the making?
We found out back in the Summer (of 2021) that I would be working on the exhibition. It was kind of low-key at first, And then, all of a sudden I got an email from SCAD Fashion in Atlanta. They worked around my classes, and I was originally going to work on this for like a week. We ended up extending it, and that’s when his (Soriano’s) assistants came, and so I worked li ke 49 hours on it instead of ten! I made myself available because I wanted to work on this so badly. I didn’t want to leave the room when everybody was leaving at night. I just wanted to stay!
So what did you actually get to do?
When I showed up, everything was opened and laid out, and my job was to get the garments prepared for display. I also learned how to pad the mannequins, which was very neat, because these garments were made for real, actual people who are not the same size or height. Each different body type was different. I also dressed the mannequins. We had to be very careful with the garments, and then get the poses correct. We learned how to try to make the personalities show through so much more.
Did Christian Siriano come and have an actual hand in the exhibition or display?
Yes, he came down briefly and he did mostly finishing touches, making sure garments were exactly where he wanted them to be, and focusing on the overall vision. With it being his first ever museum exhibit, he just wanted everything to be perfect.
Was there anything specific you think you’ll take away from this experience?
One thing SCAD has always taught me is the importance of making connections, and one thing I learned through this is that it really is THAT important. I’ve been just immersed in an experience that was so fulfilling. You form a connection that will help you in the future, but you can also help them! And I want to add that people really need to come see this museum and this collection.
‘People Are People,’ American designer Christian Siriano’s first solo museum exhibition is on display at the SCAD Museum of Art through Jan. 30, 2022. scadmoa.org