A close-up of Sergio Hudson’s name hand-beaded into one of his iconic designs. (Photos by Madeline Hager/Carolina News and Reporter)
The Columbia Museum of Art has opened an exhibit featuring clothing designs by Sergio Hudson, who’s from Ridgeway, just 30 minutes from Columbia.
The exhibit entitled “Focused on the Fit” highlights the most memorable moments of Hudson’s career and includes a timeline of notable moments.
Jackie Adams, museum director of art and learning, said the museum wanted to showcase a local designer after opening an exhibit about British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
Hudson, 36, has risen quickly to the top of the fashion industry, designing for Beyonce, Michelle Obama and actress Keke Palmer. The dress he made for Palmer for the spring 2023 Met Gala is on display in the show.
Adams said the Met Gala is career-defining for designers, and it introduced Hudson to many.
“This was his first time getting to walk those stairs,” Adams said. “That is kind of the moment of a designer’s career where they can kind of say, ‘I made it. I’m here.’”
Hudson also has had several important moments since the gala.
He is now the creative director for Palmer’s career.
He also created a houndstooth coat that turned into a mass-produced piece when he collaborated with Target for distribution.
“He was thinking about paying homage to his Ridgeway roots,” Adams said. “So we put here (on the museum wall), ‘A Love Letter to South Carolina.’ And this Target (coat) represents this idea of accessibility back to his roots.”
Hudson also recently was named Essence magazine’s 2023 Designer of the Year.
Megan Pickney Rutherford, an influencer, friend and client of Hudson’s, met Hudson at a fashion show while both lived in Columbia in 2010.
“From the moment that I met him, I was immediately attracted,” said Rutherford, who lives in Charleston. “He had style. And he had the true talent.”
Rutherford and Huson remained friends after he moved to Los Angeles and jumpstarted his career.
Rutherford’s wedding dress, which Hudson designed for her during her COVID-era wedding in 2020, is art of the museum show.
The wedding dress has since been featured in Vogue magazine.
“Growing up as a fashion lover in South Carolina, I know that I didn’t always see the success that came from here,” Rutherford said. “In many ways, I felt like it wasn’t an option.”
Hudson, however, told Rutherford that his career has unfolded as he expected it to, leading him to be based in Los Angeles.
Rutherford helped museum staff with the exhibit’s design and content. She told reporters during a press briefing about Hudson’s many influences and growth.
“He has been surrounded by people who have supported him from the beginning here in Colombia,” Rutherford said. “He had strong women around him who all really appreciated his style.”
Hudson’s influences are the reason behind his fashion career, Rutherford said.
“He very early on realized that he had an affinity for style and wanted to make women feel beautiful,” Rutherford said.
Laren Rowe, a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, didn’t know much about Hudson before the exhibit opened.
“I had no clue he was in Ridgeway,” Rowe said. “Obviously I knew the Michelle Obama inauguration outfit. I was, like, in love with it when I saw it.”
Rowe said she likes how the exhibit showcases the sketches and the variations between Hudson’s ideas and finalized designs.
The exhibit is really interesting for Rowe, she said, since it features a designer who is so close to her Columbia home.
Other community members agree. Columbia Fashion Week Owner and CEO Juliette Muller, shared her appreciation for the exhibit.
“You guys have done an amazing job with bringing fashion into the museum and showcasing it as its true form, which is art,” Muller told museum directors. “The fashion community thanks you.”