Jamaican-born fashion designer, Hope Wade, never dreamed that one of her designs would end up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. The singular distinction all began with a phone call to singer and actress, Darlene Love, about a pair of shoes.
Love was on the Wendy Williams Show when she was promoting her 20 Ft. From Stardom album. Wade liked the shoes Love was wearing and made contact with her. Love invited Wade to visit and bring some of her designs. Love saw a red gown that Wade had designed and immediately said she wanted it for her performance on the David Letterman Show.
Love sang “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” each year on the David Letterman Show from 1986-2014. Wade’s now famous red dress is one of the pieces from her 2014 Burlap and Dots collection. Burlap fabric is known as crocus in Jamaica and it’s a material that’s always fascinated Wade.
The designer attended Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha” and Vaz Preparatory School, both in in Kingston, Jamaica. She began studying art and advertising design at the New York City Technical College in 1982, then received a full scholarship to Cooper Union College where she pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design and Photography.
She didn’t set out to be a fashion designer, though she always admired her mother’s elegant style. Wade is the fourth of five children and her father, Superintendent Gussie Blake, was the band leader for the Police Constabulary Force in Port Royal.
She’s been designing for more than 20 years, but the road to success hasn’t been linear. Wade was fired from a job because her boss feared she was being groomed to take his place. She fell behind financially and didn’t have a dress to wear to a social event so she crafted her first creation with her mother’s guidance over the phone.
Wade always liked burlap, but it’s typically used for handbags. She decided to take the plunge and create her first line using burlap in 2013 at London Fashion Week. It was so well-received she’s been working with the fabric ever since.
In 2015, Wade was one of the top three finalists in the TV show Project Runway and she became an ordained evangelist in 2018. She’s also an actress and performed in the Off-Broadway production of “All My Struggles.”
Through her Hope Wade Designs, she now dresses some of the most visible and recognizable personages in the world, ranging from TV stars, entertainers and top models, along with Miss Jamaica Universe, Miss Jamaica World, and Miss Intercontinental Jamaica contestants.
She’s been featured in prestigious fashion magazines and Fashion Week events around the globe. Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha” honored her in 2018 as Alpha Academy Alumnae’s Woman of Excellence for her achievements in the fashion industry, spirit of community and volunteerism.