After doing many odd jobs and then landing a role with a major urban fashion label, Mimi Plange made her dreams a reality and launched her thriving eponymous fashion label.
Moving to California with her family while she was young was a big leap for her to achieve her goals.
She attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in California and earned a BA in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, before that. After finishing her education, she travelled to New York and worked for Rachel Roy and Patricia Fields.
Her designs draw inspiration from her African ancestry. Rihanna, Serena Williams, and the first lady Michelle Obama have all been her clients. On the ABC television program The View, Michelle donned her A-line skirt.
Early life and education
At an early age, her mother and uncle influenced her interest in fashion. Her architect uncle instilled in her a love of music and the arts, which sparked her own imagination.
Mimi Plange learned the flute, but she knew from an early age that her career would be in fashion design.
Some of her favourite visual artists were Nandipha Mntambo, Wangechi Mutu, and Kehinde Wiley.
Mimi Plange arrived in New York one month after receiving her degree from the FIDM. She worked a few odd jobs until landing a job at a well-known urban luxury brand, which led to many new opportunities.
She was able to land a position as an assistant in the menswear section despite having no prior expertise designing men’s clothing but a solid portfolio in the very competitive talent pool that is New York City. She claims that it was an incubation phase that improved her understanding of the commercial side of the sector.
Starting a label
She eventually founded her own brand with her husband, initially going by the name Boudoir D’Huitres, which she later renamed to the current personal label Mimi Plange.
Her personal experience, architectural training, and desire to create clothing for a lady with a unique sense of style all influence her creative sensibilities.
Many people go to New York with the same ambition to succeed, but Mimi Plange credits her work ethic in big part for her success. The triumphs she’s enjoyed relatively early in her career don’t seem to have swayed her from achieving.
She also uses her art to reflect the beauty of Africa on a global scale. Plange was quoted in a 2011 New York Times article as saying:
“I want to prove to people that African fashion can’t be pigeonholed… I can compete globally.”
In none of her creations does Mimi Plange incorporate traditional African materials or prints. In addition, 2011 was the year when Michelle Obama, the former first lady, made her television appearance on The View while sporting an A-line skirt by Mimi Plange, which put her on the radar.
Scarred Perfection, her spring 2012 collection, referred to the body scars that Africans would wear as a means of tribe identification. To quote Plange:
“I am motivated by those things that make us question how we represent ourselves to others.”
In the fall of 2012, Mimi Plange was the focus of a brief profile in The New York Times, and during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week South Africa, she was named Designer of the Year.