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How Megan Pinckney Rutherford helped bring Sergio Hudson to the CMA

The exhibition “Sergio Hudson: Focused on the Fit” celebrates an SC-born fashion designer whose clientele now includes Keke Palmer, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Rihanna, Issa Rae, and more (like... Beyoncé).

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Four people sit onstage in chairs, holding microphones in front of artful floral displays

Community Curator Megan Pinckney Rutherford in conversation with designer Sergio Hudson, along with Inga Beckham, co-owner of the Sergio Hudson brand, and co-creative director Charles Lynch.

Photo by Crush Rush for The Columbia Museum of Art

Born in Ridgeway, SC, Sergio Hudson has become one of the biggest names in the fashion industry — and now, his work is on display at the Columbia Museum of Art.

Sergio Hudson: Focused on the Fit” was organized with help from Community Curator Megan Pinckney Rutherford. We recently got to speak with Megan about the exhibition and her experience bringing it to the CMA:

Q: We’re excited for a behind-the-scenes look at “Sergio Hudson: Focused on the Fit.” Before we dive in, mind telling our readers a little bit about yourself?
A: I was born and raised in Charleston, SC, and as long as I can remember I’ve loved fashion. I started reading fashion magazines in middle school and would spend hours using them to make collages. So I guess it wasn’t so surprising when I ended up in the fashion merchandising program at USC. During my senior year, I competed at Miss USA, and then a few months later started a personal blog. In the 10 years since then, I’ve been able to use my knowledge of the fashion industry to develop a personal brand that uses imagery to market products and services.

Q: You served as a Community Curator for this exhibition — what was that like?
A: Unreal! It was a dream that I never knew I had. When I first pitched the idea to the museum, I never saw myself having any other role. But as it developed, it just made sense. And the entire experience felt like one giant internship, which was exciting, because how often do we get the opportunity to learn something brand new as an adult? But the CMA allowed me to work hand-in-hand with Jackie Adams: curating the pieces, choosing the layout, and even having input in colors and text.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the exhibition?
A: I love it all, of course, but I think there’s something really powerful about that timeline that charts [Hudson’s] journey from SC to LA. So often people reach a great deal of success in a place where people wouldn’t normally expect it, so they’re left asking themselves, “How?” That timeline lays it all out. Sure there was a bit of luck, but there was a lifetime of preparation in place too!

Q: What do you hope people leave talking about after seeing it?
A: The biggest takeaway for me is that dreams really do come true if you work hard enough at your craft or if you support someone you see perfecting their craft. And that the feeling of witnessing it can be just as rewarding as having achieved it yourself. Which is why I was adamant we include [a] mirror for self-reflection to ask ourselves, “What or who can you believe in?”

A museum exhibition featuring three colorful outfits, one white outfit, and an evening gown

The exhibition features signature garments from key moments in Hudson’s career as well as sketches and drawings exploring his creative process.

Photo provided by Victor Johnson / The Columbia Museum of Art

Q: It’s been an exciting year for fashion at the CMA, between this show and McQueen. How would you describe your relationship with fashion?
A: I so appreciate the CMA for being a leader in our fashion community, for seeing its importance, and for bringing that conversation to a city that will never be considered a fashion capital. I think in many ways, it’s a metaphor for my own relationship with the industry. I may not be at the center of decisions or news, but my passion for fashion has helped me carve out a space for me and my community, like we can belong to it too.

Q: What would you tell someone who might not think a fashion-focused exhibition is for them?
This exhibition is much deeper than fashion. Fashion was simply his medium, but what Sergio creates is art. And it’s art that is expressive of a community, a generation, and a moment in time. What he creates makes people feel something about themselves, and with that confidence, they’re able to make waves in our universe. How can that power not be universal?

You can check out “Sergio Hudson: Focused on the Fit” through June 30 at the CMA.

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