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Mimi Wade: The Designer Making Girly Cool Again

Photo: Getty
When your grandmother was a 1950s, bonafide bombshell of a Hollywood actress who starred in The Blob, it's more than likely that glamour runs through your veins. This is, of course, the case with Fashion East designer Mimi Wade. Mimi, whose graduate collection from Central St Martins was inspired entirely by her Granny Pammy, who, in her time was photographed by Richard Avedon and modelled for Dali, is a model herself. But with her first presentation being met with serious approval at London Fashion Week in February, we suspect she'll find less time for such extra curricular activities.

She can count Pamela Anderson and Lana Del Rey as fans, and her decaying debutants, tangy lace slips, marabou marigolds and silver screen inspired prints are a fresh slice of feminine, good-old-fashioned glamour in the sea of sportswear and denim that's dominating the London style scene. We caught up with the sparkling young thing to find out what gets her going...

Were you always interested in clothes from a young age?
Yes, I was always dressing up in my mum's clothes, going to markets and customising things.

How did you dress at eighteen?
At eighteen I had just started my foundation course at St Martins. I remember wearing leopard print brothel creepers almost every day, fishnet tights and an oversized baseball jacket I stole from a boy at a party...

What was your experience of Central St Martins?
I adored it. I had an amazing year group and we learned a lot from each other, as well as from the tutors who are so devoted and inspirational. I also learned how to be disciplined and motivated. The course is incredibly fast paced.

How did joining Fashion East change things for you?
Amazing. I was elated. It has been the most exciting experience.

How has it changed things for you?
It has enabled me to work with super talented people and given me the most incredible platform and ultimately a huge amount of support. I have learned an enormous amount.
What was it like doing your first presentation this season?
Really exciting and a lot of work. But fun! The setting was unreal, to be able to have my first presentation at Tate Britain was unbelievable.

What were you looking at/ listening to when you designed Fall 2016?
I was listening to a lot of Three Six Mafia and Gansgta Boo whilst designing and looking at film noir posters and watching films from the late 1960s with badass female leads.

Who styled the presentation?
Anna Trevelyan styled for me this season. I've admired her work since I was a teenager and it truly was a dream come true to have her styling the presentation. She is such an inspiring lady.

And the casting?
Madeleine Ostile did the casting, she has such an amazing eye. Most of the girls were sent to us from agencies but some were friends or girls that I had met out.
What do you love about evening wear?
I've always loved getting ready and dressing up usually more fun than going out. I find if I'm wearing something special and I feel confident and beautiful I'm more likely to leave the house !

Your clothes have huge sex appeal, is that something you want to convey?
Not intentionally , I think sex appeal is something inherent in a person. Someone can be sexy with no make up wearing a bin bag. I think it's totally within a person but clothes can have the ability to enhance that feeling and I hope that mine do.

What’s the funniest thing anyone's said about your designs?
I was doing a project at St Martins inspired by Mexican Votive Paintings. I did a series of prints on Schiaparelli pink organza and clear latex with poke balls; drawings from photographs of lost loved ones, motifs derived from fruit box packaging and various other things. My tutor felt as though I hadn't produced enough work and said my prints looked like a Victoria Beckham Juicy Couture amalgamation. I think this was supposed to be insulting but I thought it was quite lol!
Tell us about your Granny Pammy…
My Granny Pammy is probably the most inspiring human being in my life. She was an actress in the 1950s and 60s and now she lives in West Hollywood with her cats and dogs. Her favourite, a beautiful Pitbull named Her Majesty The Great White, tragically passed away this year which was very sad. She has devoted most her life to rescuing animals. She's my muse.

Is film where you usually begin with inspirations for your collections?

Yes, whether it's obsessing over a character , collecting stills or movie memorabilia , it tends to always inform the best part of my inspiration.

What’s your favourite film?
I don't have a favourite film but my favourite director has to be Sofia Coppola.

Who would play you in your this-is-your-life movie?
Kirsten Dunst, please!

What other designers are you excited about?
Louis Pileggi, Milligan Beaumont , Dilara Findikoglu, Caitlin Price ... The list goes on.
Who’s already worn your pieces in terms of celebrities, and does that feel odd?
Lana Del Rey and Pamela Anderson, it felt really amazing because I am a huge fan of both. It's quite strange that it happened really as I struggle to think of any other celebrities that would excite me quite as much

What does fashion mean to you?
It's where I channel my creativity

Do you feel a sense of growing pressure with increasing recognition? And if so, how do you deal with that?
No, not at all I think it's a bit premature for that ! Although I was at the Marfa Journal Party in Paris and someone asked me if I was wearing Mimi Wade, I thought that was nice that she recognised my work but not my face. It was very flattering.

What do you do to relax?
I love baths. That and hanging out with my bestie Harriet Verney who never ceases to amuse!

If you could take anyone out for a drink who would it be and why?

My Granny Pammy because she likes a drink, she's the best company in the world and I miss her dearly.

Who would you love to see in Mimi Wade?

What’s the future of Mimi Wade?
Expect to see more clothes that'll ensure you have fun if you're wearing them!

Follow Mimi on Instagram @mimi.wade