LONDON FASHION WEEK / — The juxtaposition of hard and soft is loud and clear in Mimi Wade’s designs this season. An exploration of cracked femininity takes a leading role in her Autumn-Winter ‘18 offerings, with gaze on important places, old houses and the once claustrophobic walls in which femininity lay within.
Beauty here is measured on imperfections and honesty and this sentiment is echoed in Mimi’s ever present tongue-in-cheek prints. “OPEN BOOK!” one print screams. “EASY TO READ” another teases. The graphics and prints (screen-printed using CMYK) feature elements inspired by the covers of female-centric gothic romance pulp novels – albeit Mimi’s are subverted and warped. They also reference the frustrations of one of Mimi’s favourite writers Daphne Du Maurier, who was lumbered into the gothic romance genre, despite her seminal 1938 book ‘Rebecca’ not being in the least bit romantic. A label thrust on her purely based on gender, not literary substance.
Other references came from the likes Dario Argento’s 1977 thriller “Suspiria”. This mood of revisionist fairy tales paired with a whacked-out, psychedelic candy-coloured driven hallucination of the movie struck a chord with Mimi.
As did the music score from the same movie. The marriage of prog-rock and horror was one made in horror-film heaven. But where “Suspiria” had the phantasmagorical trip-fest of the band Goblin, Mimi has R&B singer ABRA. The Atlanta-based musician’s mix of hard-edged vocals and delicate romantic soundscapes delivering a deliberate contrast sits at the core of both of their artistic identities, and thus felt like a natural collaboration for this show.
Mimi’s seasonal collaboration with jeweller Vicki Sarge has taken on a new chronicle this time. Hand-sewn chains are featured on headbands that perch on the model’s heads, adorned with pearl flowers and Swarovski crystals. Veils in hand-dyed ombré colours cascade off the back. These thick, padded velvet hairbands are inspired by a role played by Mimi’s “Granny Pammy” aka Pamela Curran in the gothic-cum-kitsch-cum-camp 1965 film “The Loved One.” Circling around the funeral business in LA, the film follows the British expatriate community in Hollywood, struggling to fit in. The tension of these two-opposing gene pools Mimi is familiar with in her own ancestry.
Shapes this season springboard from prissy baby-dolls with Sophie Hallette lace trimmed busts and decorated with velvet ribbon ties to grown-up sexy pencil skirt ensembles. Off-the shoulder dresses are delicately distressed and made from 0.4mm thin leather with raw edged hemlines. Think baby-doll meets Boudicca, as feminine silhouettes are given jagged edges, a nod to Raquel Welch in the 1966 British film “1000 years BC.” Shoes provided by Converse are thick, white leather One Stars, crisp and simple.
This collection celebrates ALL things female, a visual delight of the good girls, bad girls and deliciously U.G.L.Y. girls and women of then and now.
By Harriet Verney
Photos by Helle Moos, courtesy of Mimi Wade