Friday Five with Mimi Plange

The moment I met Mimi Plange, I was immediately enamored. She’s an intriguing enigma with enviable, effortless style, model good looks, and mad talent to go with it. The Ghana-born designer calls New York City home launching her ready-to-wear label in 2010 after spending 10 years in the industry. With degrees from the San Francisco Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and the University of California at Berkeley, where she received a degree in architecture, Plange has been carving out her own vision of clothing that brilliantly merges modern American luxury sportswear with elements of her African heritage. As if all of that isn’t enough, our First Lady Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Vanessa Hudgens, Serena Williams, Janelle Monae, and many more, have all donned her creations. Plus, she’s been collaborating with French furniture brand Roche Bobois on a project to be released this fall. Needless to say, I have no doubt, she’s going to turn the fashion industry on its head more so than she already has. For this week’s Friday Five, Plange gives us a look into what keeps her inspired.

1. Scarification
Scarification is a ritual and beauty practice that involves using stones, glass or knives to carve custom designs permanently into the body to decorate or communicate cultural expressions. It’s a long lost art, that I find beautiful and intriguing. I’m inspired by the precision and symmetry, and curious about the various meanings. I am inspired by the geometric patterns that are formed and use them to express various shapes, especially triangles within my work. It’s about challenging conventional ideas of beauty.

2. “Host of Seraphim” by Dead Can Dance (from Baraka)
Lisa Gerrard has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. I find myself listening to Dead Can Dance on repeat over and over when I am working. This video is one of the most compelling, I have ever seen. It exposes very real and hard truths in a deeply moving and beautiful way. I find it inspirational, because it touches you deeply and forces you to pay attention the entire time, and even after you’ve watched it, it keeps it’s hold on you.

Katy Aphrodite (detail) by Mark Ryden \\\ Pop surrealism

Katy Aphrodite (detail) by Mark Ryden

3. Pop Surrealism
I love the playful and thoughtful works of Mark Ryden. They invite you to escape and challenge you to read a little deeper. I find this artistic expression of storytelling inspirational. I want to weave fairytale stories of Africa within my prints. I collect pictures of botanical florals, Victorian animal paintings, African symbols and marks and combine them into pastel collages inspired by Pop Surrealism. The goal: Share your story in a beautiful way and leave them thinking.

Photo by SeenByKloe

Photo by SeenByKloe

4. Collaborations
I love when different brands from different walks of life collaborate together in order to create something new and modern. Roche Bobois collaborated with 13 artists to explore the idea of street art within the home. Design and Art can go anywhere. There are no rules.

Diana S. Sakulombo, Tipo Passe by Edson Chagas

Diana S. Sakulombo, Tipo Passe by Edson Chagas

5. Contemporary African Art
This is one of my favorite works by Chagas. It’s the balance of everything I love in design, something historical contrasting with something new. It’s a powerful image about identity, how we see ourselves and how others may perceive us. No hiding.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.