By Holly Gordon
The first thing you notice about Jordyn Wade’s fashion designs are the distinct and specific references her collections make—to the relationship between a photographer and musician, protests in Richmond, or a brain injury. Often the images have a written complement, such as a quote or a song lyric. Much of her inspiration comes from books; she hails from a family of storytellers in a small Lebanese community in Richmond where everyone looked out for their own.
“I pick one passion and run with it,” she says. “I’ll get really into one subject and then say, well, now I have to turn this into something.”
Wade acknowledges her art follows a specific timeline of her experiences. Her process helps with her own understanding and feels therapeutic. For instance, her Little Death collection was inspired by racial justice protests in Richmond following the death of George Floyd.
At first, Wade stopped designing and wondered if she should have chosen a different path, majoring in political science or “something helpful.” Then, she realized she could apply her own talents to the movement.
Wade developed a pattern she thought might interfere with facial recognition software. In typical protests, she says, people are encouraged to stand close together, but with COVID-19, that wasn’t possible. As protesters spread out, it becomes easier for individuals to be identified. Wade’s pattern—which she printed on canvas—mimics facial components and slows down the software.
In addition to the pattern, the garments in Wade’s collection were made of lightweight, breathable fabric that still provided coverage against tear gas and masked tattoos and other identifying marks.
“Even though I didn’t have traditionally useful skills during this movement,” she says, “I knew there were ways that I could still protect and support my community, and it was my responsibility to do so.
“I think people view fashion as narcissistic or vain. You’re allowed to like how you look, how you want to express yourself.”
Wade included pieces from Little Death in her senior collection, which will be featured in the fashion showcase in June. The showcase is a virtual alternative to the annual fashion showcase.
Concept sketch from Wade’s Little Death collection
Garment from Little Death collection
Wade works on a garment from her Darkroom collection
Concept sketches from the Darkroom collection
Completed jacket from the Darkroom collection
Concept sketch from 27 Club collection.
Her senior collection also features work from two other collections. A long floral jacket from Darkroom—a collection inspired by the relationship between punk musician Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe—seeks a balance between masculinity and femininity. And an outfit from 27 Club juxtaposes the early deaths of famous artists with Wade’s own family curse by pairing plaid with a Roman-inspired leather harness.
After graduation, Wade has an apartment lined up in New York City with her older sister. She’s applying for positions in menswear and considering grad school, ideally abroad.
“There’s so much I don’t know,” she says. “VCU has given me an amazing base, but we don’t have a [dedicated] menswear program here so I know there’s so much to learn.”
See more of Wade’s work at georgie-wade.com.