by Bill Batson
Since September 2020, internationally renowned fashion designer Hope Wade has been turning North Broadway into a runway. This Saturday, November 6, Wade has invited 14 other fashion industry artists to show their work at the second annual Rockland Fashion Week hosted by the Palisades Mall.
This week’s Nyack Sketch Log interview and illustration belong to a woman who is putting Rockland on the world fashion map. Meet Hope Wade.
What brought you to Nyack?
It’s a quaint town and the people and waterfront are beautiful. And it reminds me of Port Royal in Kingston, Jamaica where I lived from when I was 5 – 13 years old. I have a boutique at 23 N Broadway, and thankfully, it’s doing well.
How did you become a fashion designer?
I was a very good art and theater student at Alpha Academy high school in Jamaica, but I wanted to be a nurse. Right before graduation, the school nurse, Ms Lowe, asked about my plans. I told her I wanted to be a nurse and she stopped me and said, “No. You are an artist.”
Even though I was accepted into the University of the West Indies to do Business, I was able to convince my parents that I needed time to pursue my career in the arts. I acted in plays and joined a poetry group called Poets in Unity. After two years, I applied to go to the New York City Technical College for Art & Advertising. While there one of my professors, Mr. Wok, insisted that I was Cooper Union material.
I got into Cooper and it transformed my life. It opened me up to a world of colors and new experiences in technical drawing, graphic design and photography.
One year, my church, Redeeming Love Christian Center had a New Year’s Eve event with a formal dress code. I didn’t have a proper dress. Two days before the event , I asked a fellow Cooper graduate, James Hayward Rolling Jr., who is now a professor at Syracuse University, if he would act as a mannequin. All my friends loved my dress and started ordering their own. That’s how I became a fashion designer.
I design elegant couture dresses and gowns for women and children. I sew everything. I choose the materials and design/sketch the dresses for my clients. I get very excited about materials. When I see a fabric or feel it, instantly a design comes to mind and I have to quickly sketch.
When did you launch Rockland Fashion Week?
Rocklandfashionweek was started December 7th, 2019. It was the first show. We had 5 designers including myself. It was incubating in my mind for 4 years before I took action. We had over 250 patrons in attendance.
Some of the highlights of RFW 2021 is that the Palisades Center reached out to me to produce the show last year. Of course because of COVID there were too many moving parts so we will be doing the show on November 6th at 5:30pm on the first floor in front of H&M store. The VIP bag has over $150 worth of goods. We have 10 designers including 4 Rockland designers, over 40 models including Faces of Beauty Model Team, lead makeup artist Litha Vazquez from Project Runway, we have JayLee and Sephora for makeup products and Ziggy Artistry for hairstyling . It promises to be a bigger and better event. We have 3 performing artists, crooner Mark Wade, Dance Hall Pastor Stephen Blake from Jamaica and a guest artist from VP Records.
As it is Fashion week, we will be going into 2 local schools to talk about the business of fashion. Plus there will be pop up shops at Hope Wade Designs Store on N Broadway Nyack and Maria Luisa store on S Broadway plus A Time To Clothes in the mall.
Fashion isn’t the only arena where you are making a mark. I understand you were recently elected to lead an important local civic organization.
I was elected as president of JAMCCAR in January 2021. This organization has been around for over 31 years, not only does it have longevity but influence. We have given out over $300k in scholarships to high school students entering their first year in college as well as book scholarships. One of the things we pride ourselves on is producing a platform for politicians to meet the community and talk about issues they’re running on and not endorse. We are known for our steel band which we are starting up again with a fresh approach.
JAMCCAR recently hosted Senator the Honorable Leslie Campbell Minister of State in the office of the Ministry Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade from Jamaica as well as the Consul General Alsion Wilson at the Nyack Seaport. We had 2 local mayors (Nyack and Spring Valley), quite a few politicians and business people. The event celebrate Jamaica’s 59th year of independence.
His purpose was to invite Americans and members of the Caribbean diaspora in any capacity to invest in Jamaica, not just financially but also in terms of social investment in education, giving of our talents and time to uplift the island of Jamaica.
What’s Next for Hope Wade?
That’s a tall order.
My goals for the future is to build a factory so that designers, especially of color, can have a facility to manufacture their own clothing, plus I would love to give a scholarship annually to an emerging designer and there is no age limit
I would like to do a fashion talk show as well as create Shopping Network. I would like to expand my clientele to include not just womenswear but a larger array of menswear.
I want Rockland Fashion Week to be a staple for Rockland County that not just showcases designers but be a full time employer and have a school for training models.
I am an ordained evangelist so I would like to be a motivational speaker with a twist. One of my aspirations is to be the guest speaker at a graduation ceremony. I’ve always been inspired by the words of other guest speakers at college and high school graduations.
Attend Rockland Fashion Week
Tickets are still available for this exciting fashion event culminating in the fashion show featuring designers, makeup artists, models and music to excite your fashion sense! You can purchase tickets here.
Fredlyne Burns – Le Painture
*Lorraine Freeman – Customly Yours
Cor Du Roi
* LaTeffaney – Kurvacious
*Time To Clothes
*Sandra Szpicek Leylegian-The Things I Love
*Annmarie Jameson- Elite Repeat
*Hope Wade Designs
*from Rockland County
Enjoy VIP seating with special privileges including a gift bag, preferred seating and refreshments. Dress to show your style and be a fashionista!
Sat, November 6, 2021
5:30 – 8:30pm
1000 Palisades Center Drive
For more information, visit hopewadedesigns.com.