Spring / Summer ’18 introduces a new chapter for Mimi Wade as she once again delves into her fluorescent Hollywood family history. Inspired by a visit to her Grandmother “Granny Pammy’s” house in Hollywood over the summer, she found herself surrounded by Pammy’s vast collection of movie memorabilia, lobby cards, autographs and posters.
Here were posters from films like “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and others bearing the Hollywood siren’s profile – some of the which were for movies she hadn’t even starred in – they just wanted to use her face. “I found this quite amusing” says Wade of this latest discovery into her Grandmother’s wild past, “and so I decided to create my own posters, taking on different personas to make these tongue-in-cheek prints on which I feature.”
This season Mimi stars in her own movie-poster inspired prints, mimicking that of Hollywood’s bygone B-movie era. Said images are digitally printed on duchess satin or printed using a traditional method in poster printing –using CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key) on silk. Sleeves and necklines are adorned with luxurious gold and embroidered lace from Sophie Hallette in Paris, while the “Garbo” Jacket and matching pencil skirt indulge in trimmings of this delicate fabric too.
Wade’s silhouettes also take on a new life for their updated script in Mimi’s story and were inspired by Regency period dress and Hollywood’s Golden Age. But it wasn’t just the glitz and glamour of Hollywood that formed the foundations of Wade’s shapes. The heated and confusing politics of 60’s and 70’s California as told in Joan Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” was on her nightstand while she was designing for her fourth collection as well as Didion’s follow up novel “The White Album.” The documentary “Listen to me Marlon” played on her mind, and her TV as well. The feature length documentary reveals the thoughts and feelings of Marlon Brando through his personal audio tapes and musings. The very same Brando who once broke into Granny Pammy’s trailer on set to check for padding in her dresses- convinced her figure must have had some assistance from prosthetics. It didn’t- she was all Pammy. Other inspirations came in the form of the subversive fantasy cult film “Hausu” (1977) – the comedic, cut-out and eerie graphics of which one can faintly see in Wade’s new Hollywood Regency.
While films played their roles, it was architecture and foliage which inspired a lot of the embellishments of the collection. The famous Hearst Castle Rose Garden in California and its vivid floral surroundings gave Wade the idea behind the artificially cultivated 1950’s technicolor roses that adorn some of the fabrics. These were made using heat transfer prints, sublimated patches with gold lurex edges and heat sealed woven patches woven by Collitex in Italy and sponsored by Avery Dennison.
Wade revisits her penchant for graphic slogans and they can be found emblazoned across silhouettes in a mixture of screen print and flock- resembling sashes from beauty pageants and digital prints on tulle layered on top of jersey to create a distorted holographic effect.
This season Mimi Wade has once created a dystopic yet beautifully- augmented reality, one that is a joy to be welcomed into.
Words by Harriet Verney
Photography: Louie Banks