COOPERMADE: Dressing the Part

COOPERMADE: Dressing the Part

Hope Wade A'87 was watching the legendary singer Darlene Love on The Wendy Williams Show when she realized that Love, wearing a glamorous pair of shoes, needed a dress with equal pizzazz. Ever the self-starter, Wade called Love, leaving a message about how she could help the singer make a stunning impression on the stage with one of her dress designs. It took Love three weeks, but she eventually caught up with Wade, commissioning her to design a dress to wear on the David Letterman show in 2014. The result was a fitted red gown made from six yards of iridescent silk with taffeta petals and rhinestones that Love wore on a Christmas-themed episode of the talk show, singing one of her signature songs, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” a tradition she’d started on Letterman back in 1986. To add to Wade’s success, the dress was then shown at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for a 2018 exhibition called “Stay Tuned: Rock on TV.”

Today, Wade, who was a top three finalist in Project Runway in 2015, continues to expand her clothing line, including a collection that pays tribute to her Jamaican heritage. The clothing uses burlap lined with silk or cotton to fashion evening dress, dress pants, shorts sets, and blouses. Burlap has traditionally been used for bags of rice that are then recycled by thrifty parents to create school uniforms for children. The material—generally thought of as rough-hewn and stiff—has a surprising lightness and pliability in Wade’s hands. Those pieces and many others can be seen on runways around the world, include some close to home thanks to her work organizing the first Rockland Fashion Week in 2019. The latest one was held on November 2, 2022.


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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.