From Classroom to Catwalk: SCAD Atlanta produces fashion’s future stars

Stephanie Waldrip, Afsina Bhimani, and Christian Harris are just a few on their way to the top

ATL_Magazine_Stepanie_Waldrip_035SCAD Atlanta’s fashion program, whose graduates have gone on to work for top brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs and Monique Lhuillier, is turning the city into a breeding ground for designers. Some alums, like Marietta native Stephanie Waldrip (’11), are even starting their own lines.

Waldrip, twenty-five, has in mind the classic woman with a bit of an edge. She’s inspired by her Southern grandmother, but has also dressed Lady Gaga—who wore a blush Waldrip evening gown when she rolled to her sister’s birthday party in a 14-karat gold wheelchair after hip surgery. The mix, Waldrip says, comes from both sides of her heritage: Her father was born and raised in Marietta, but her mother is from Colombia.

Now working in New York, Waldrip was recently named one of Elle magazine’s top ten new designers to watch (along with another former SCAD Atlanta student, Azede Jean-Pierre). Her spring collection of off-the-shoulder dresses, simple column gowns, and circle skirts—with pops of melon and navy—evinces a ladylike sensibility, but it’s the fabrics she wants you to notice. Waldrip uses custom French jacquards, Italian wools, and furs for her upscale line, which ranges from $225 to $1,250. She even wants you to know the mill (probably European, probably tiny) where your garment’s fabric originated—and often includes a tag describing the textile maker with each piece.

“There’s a sense of history and permanence we have in the South—how you want to pass things down,” she says. “I try to make my pieces with that in mind.” But that doesn’t mean her clothes are stodgy. There’s a backless leather bodysuit in the spring collection.

Waldrip is still tied to her roots in Atlanta; in fact, her business partner, Gavin Brooks, a Savannah native, lives in Peachtree Hills. Pieces from Waldrip’s collections can be found locally at Morgan Kylee boutique.

SCAD Atlanta’s Class of 2014
Afsina Bhimani, 27, MFA
It’s all about the shapes and techniques for Bhimani, who looked to a paper-folding and origami documentary called Between the Folds for her graduating collection. Working mostly in wools, Bhimani (who was born in India but raised in Atlanta) is trying to eliminate the concept of the seam. With her clean-cut, minimalist aesthetic, she has her sights on Calvin Klein.

Christian Harris, 26, MFA
Last year, Harris won the Fine Art Fashion runway competition benefiting the National Black Arts Festival, putting his designs in the windows at Neiman Marcus. His graduating collection is elegant and jewel-encrusted but distressed, inspired by the serious-minded topics of hemophilia and the Russian Revolution.

More homegrown fashion: Check out our feature on Georgia designer Wes Gordon

This article originally appeared in our May 2014 issue.