Derrick Adams has brought his extensive exhibition “Patrick Kelly, The Journey” to SCAD this season, exploring the late fashion designer’s robust archive. The installation explores Kelly’s vibrant, avant-garde collections from over the course of his career, which took off in Paris in the ’80s and led him to becoming the first African-American designer to be admitted to France’s prestigious fashion governing body, the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter.
Adams conducted research for the exhibition at New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, unearthing materials like sketches, photographs, and swatches. His search even uncovered a proposal for a biography on Kelly — who passed away from AIDS-related causes in 1990 — that would’ve been written by Maya Angelou, a noted friend of the designer.
Within the installation, which was curated by Alexandra Sachs, Adams takes the rare memorabilia and juxtaposes it against his own abstract collages and sculptures. The resulting dialogue between the artist and designer’s pieces work together in the sense of a collaboration, allowing Adams to “talk about fashion, talk about the form, talk about the body without using the figure.”
“This is where it all started, in Atlanta, for Patrick,” said Adams. “He was an artist, a performer. And things that I think a lot of designers may not consider themselves today — he was the art.”
Browse through the gallery above to see works from the exhibit or watch the video below for more from the artist.