Born and raised in Ridgeway, S.C., Sergio Hudson has had a passion for design since he was about four years old.
In 2013, he was the first person to win Bravo's reality TV series "Styled to Rock," hosted by Rihanna. Following this win, he came back to Columbia to continue working on his brand and made a name for himself by styling clients and creating custom designs for his all-women's clothing line.
Hudson left his hometown and moved to Los Angeles in 2016 after his career took off with a design that he created in Columbia. Now, he has styled for big names such as Rachel Brosnahan, Kendall Jenner, Keke Palmer and Serena Williams.
In late November, Hudson will revisit his home state for a showcase exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art. The exhibit, “Focused on the Fit,” will feature nine garments from Hudson's career, as well as 43 fashion illustrations and four items of memorabilia, ranging from the beginning of his career to current day.
Megan Pinckney Rutherford, a lifestyle blogger, community curator for the exhibit and a close friend of Hudson, said the exhibit is a reminder to the Columbia community that even people from a small town can have the opportunity to become successful and follow their dreams.
“I think it's really important to tell that story here to show other people that it really is possible," Rutherford said. "That if you have a dream that seems crazy and outlandish and, to everyone else, unimaginable, it really still can be a possibility.”
The exhibit will be sectioned into three themes to present Hudson's career and life as a designer, “Belief and Beginnings,” “The Craft and Creative Process” and “What it Means to Make an Icon.”
Jackie Adams, the director of art and learning at the Columbia Museum of Art, said the show will pay an homage to Hudson’s hometown roots and the designer's journey to success.
"Were going to look at a general scope of how things go from concept to creation to collection", Adams said. "A lot of people only see the finished product, but we're going to just deconstruct a little bit in how it really goes from a vision in your head, to a finished product, to a runway moment kind of thing".
Adams said that artifacts, such as actress Keke Palmer's 2023 Met Gala dress, designed by Hudson, and Hudson’s signature suits, will be on display to the public as a part of the exhibit.
Rutherford said Hudson has had an interest in design for a large part of his life. As he continued working on his career, he started focusing on women's fashion with an emphasis on suits and dresses, taking some of his inspiration from the women that he has worked with, such as Palmer.
“They’re also going to understand who the Sergio Hudson woman is,” Rutherford said. “Who he’s designing for, who he’s inspired by and what sets his brand apart from other fashion houses.”
The exhibit was created to appreciate Hudson’s work but also tie in the strong connection that he has with his career and his upbringing in South Carolina. Adams and Rutherford said they worked with Hudson to show that without the support of his family or the community that he grew up in, he would not have been able to amount to the success that he has with his career today.
“You’re going to also walk out with an understanding of how deep, deeply connected he is to his community and where he came from", Rutherford said. "What his roots are because those are the first people who believed him in, supported him, who inspired him”.
Adams said the Columbia Museum of Art has done other exhibits similar to Hudson's in the past, where a “hometown hero” is featured to show how they went from growing up in South Carolina to their present career.
Adams said the exhibit on Hudson is part of a larger effort to feature designers, with the museum featuring an exhibit by Lee Alexander McQueen, a fashion designer from England, in early October.
“I mean this one that's here now, 'Rendez-Vouz' with Alexander McQueen and Ann Ray is really, really good. They do a really great job of bringing special exhibits in,” Barry Beasley, a Columbia local and frequent Columbia Museum of Art visitor, said. “This is one of the things that really helped transform Main Street when the museum moved here.”
Beasley said he will be back for future visits to see more of the special exhibits that the museum has in store.
For Adams and Rutherford, the exhibit is another way to serve the community. They said they hope it inspires visitors.
"Whether you're a student in college, a kid in elementary school, a person who is retired," Adams said. "We're all seeking a need to understand and learn and be exposed to something we've never been exposed to before."
The Sergio Hudson “Focused on the Fit” exhibit will be available to view on Nov. 18 at the Columbia Museum of Art on the second floor. Admission is $10 or free for members of the museum.