New York Fashion Week is on its way to the Hudson Valley.
Scratch that. Rockland Fashion Week is not the same as the Big Apple original, at least insofar as the crowds and citywide frenzy are concerned. What the two shows do share, however, are a passion for design, a hunger for emerging talent, and a desire to uncover the next big thing.
It’s lucky, then, that the mastermind behind Rockland County’s first-ever fashion week is an alum of not just New York Fashion Week, but the London and Caribbean runways as well. Hope Wade, founder of Hope Wade Designs, is an established fashion designer across the globe.
Her pieces have appeared everywhere from the Miss World Pageant and Miss Jamaica Universe to the White House, when Rockland County’s Grammy- and Academy Award-winning songstress Darlene Love wore one of her couture gowns for a performance in front of President Obama. (Said gown later made its way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.) A Best of Hudson Valley winner for Up and Coming Designer, she was also a top three finalist on Project Runway: A Critique With Tim.
Wade also happens to be a resident of Rockland County.
“Rockland is sophistication,” she enthuses. “Rockland is art, fashion, poetry, malls, young people, older people with stories. It’s culture, it’s religion, it’s diversification, it’s bright, and it’s beautiful.”
A graduate of New York City Technical College and Cooper Union College, Wade began her career in advertising and graphic design. After a string of highs and lows, she fell into fashion design after making a dress for her church’s New Year’s Eve service. When her friends saw her work – and promptly fell in love with it – they began ordering custom pieces. Fast-forward to today, and Wade is a recognized designer around the world.
Of course, she’s also a visionary in the Hudson Valley. Already a strong proponent for Rockland County’s burgeoning creative scene, Wade knew the region was on the precipice of expansion when she first brainstormed the idea for fashion week four years ago. The concept came to her in a burst, and she knew she needed to write down each and every thought as she envisioned details in her mind. Between her other design projects, she mapped out the foundation for the show. She settled on Kirkbride Hall in Stony Point as the venue both for its central location and its eye-catching construction.
“The first time I came off Exit 14 off the Palisades Parkway and saw that building, I fell in love with the architecture,” she reminisces.
Photo by Lauren Erskine
Beginning on December 7, the hall will play host to the kickoff runway show for Rockland Fashion Week. A true ode to the talent within the regional community, the show features a medley of Hudson Valley designers alongside a handful of national and international talents. While Wade is still in the process of finalizing participants, she’s excited to welcome Fredlyne Burns, a Rockland resident studying at SUNY New Paltz, and Jennel Reid, the international designer behind the Topaz Couture line. Up-and-coming actress Colby Christina will walk as a model and Jamaican artist Paul Blake will perform as well. During the show, Wade will even debut her 2019 “Regal Roots” collection for the first time.
While the fashion show at Kirkbride Hall on December 7 is the main to-do, Wade plans to keep the haute happenings coming throughout the week. In addition to the runway show, Rockland Fashion Week will feature live entertainment, two pop-up shops, and a formal launch party. More information about specific dates and times will be announced closer to the event.
“I have done London, Caribbean, and New York Fashion Week, and I never saw myself as one who would want to launch a fashion week,” she says. “But when this idea came to mind it made sense to me!”
The Rockland County Fashion Week show takes place inside Kirkbride Hall on December 7 beginning at 6 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the event website.