Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Jamaican designer's dress goes to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Published:Saturday | June 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Hope Wade's Red Dress which made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Designer Hope Wade's Red Dress makes it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Jamaican-born fashion designer Hope Wade has always had big dreams. But none of them included having her design making it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Wade has been designing for over 20 years, and was one of the top three finalists in Project Runway in 2015. In an interview with The Gleaner, she described the surreal story that led to the historic recognition which began in a very mundane way.

The Convent of Mercy Alpha Academy said she was watching The Wendy Williams Show, on which the Academy Award/ Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love was a guest. Love was promoting her new film, 20 Ft From Stardom.

"She had on a really nice pair of shoes, and then they panned up to her dress. And I said, "Oh my God, that dress looks like something from a tailor shop". So I called her and left a message and said your shoes are outstanding, but that dress."

Love returned her call, and that led to Wade visiting her home to show her some of her pieces. That encounter was further strengthened when Love, who was attending the Gospel Music in the Park, saw Wade's full collection.

When Love saw the red gown she said, "I want that dress for the David Letterman Show." (Since 1986 every year she sang Christmas Baby Please Come Home. The show was special as it was the last Christmas show for Letterman).

The dress is one of the pieces from Wades Burlap and Dots collection. That was in 2014,

Six weeks ago, Love made the announcement on her Facebook page. "Can't believe this, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called to say the red gown I wore to the David Letterman's show, they want the dress in the museum, congrats to Hope Wade the designer, Oh my God." Love followed up with a call to Wade.

Ever since, as a child, Hope said she has always loved the fabric burlap (crocus) but didn't think she could make a dress out of it, as it is used for mundane things, like handbags. When she showcased the first line using burlap at London Fashion Week in 2013, it was very well received, so she has been working with burlap since.


CFW finale


The dress was also in the finale piece of CFW, and Hope said it was the first time she received a standing ovation for a line. Romae Gordon of Pulse remembered the collection.

I think Hope is brilliant. She is a cutting-edge kind of designer.

It's great to see her work acknowledged - whether it's through music or through fashion, it's exceptional to see our Jamaican-born designers - being recognised internationally."

"I have big dreams but I never thought of one of my pieces being in a museum. It's like almost unbelievable," Wade told The Gleaner.