Designer Anifa Mvuemba is known for her beloved brand, Hanifa, which is full of vibrant and bold coloured designs. On Tuesday (Nov 16), she debuted her first in-person Hanifa runway show at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The show was a huge milestone for Mvuemba’s brand and represents how far it has come — last year she went viral for her virtual show Pink Label Congo on Instagram live and was set to showcase at New York Fashion Week but the show was cancelled due to the pandemic. Mvuemba always pays homage to her Congolese roots through her collections and this time was no different. Her debut show was called “Dream” and the theme speaks to the brand’s journey and its mission to represent women of all shapes and sizes. Mvuemba celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the brand by bringing the fashion industry back to where it all began: her hometown. The designer is no longer just dreaming. She has proved to herself that anything is possible.
R29Unbothered was in D.C. for the Hanifa show and looking out into the audience, the support for the brand was overwhelming; several Black women showed up wearing their favourite pieces from her previous collections, the Pink Congo Label and Hanifa Capsules, a testament to the community that continues to rally behind the fashion designer. The 35-piece collection showcased at the event solidified exactly why we’re all rooting for her. In addition to the models being diverse and ranging in various body types and sizes, the Fall/Winter 2021 ready-to-wear collection represented Hanifa’s signature styles, such as bold colours, abstract patterns, and ribbed knitwear. With this collection, she took her signature looks a step further by including modernised suiting, structured denim, fringed tops, and footwear. Mvuemba also made sure to incorporate the beloved silhouette that longtime fans of her collections are used to knit midi dresses in an eye-catching colour palette.
If you’re someone who's never shopped the brand before but is looking to bring a more luxurious style to your everyday wardrobe, this collection will not disappoint. We just know that our favourite pieces from the collection will be seen everywhere. (Select pieces will be available on November 19th on Hanifa.co.) R29Unbothered had the opportunity to chat with Mvuemba about her exciting collection and what’s next for the designer.
R29Unbothered: What inspired the collection and the overall theme?
Anifa Mvuemba: “I wanted to honour where we came from, where it all started, to celebrate 10 years of Hanifa. [I wanted to] celebrate what we’ve accomplished to embrace change. I wanted to showcase and highlight details, colours, fabrications, and all the many facets of the Hanifa brand like footwear, outwear, knitwear, etc.”
Why was it important to have your first runway show in D.C. versus showcasing at NYFW?
AM: “D.C. is home. It’s important to know where you came from, to support the local artists and creatives. Most people make it ‘big,’ leave D.C., and never come back. I wanted to make a change and to honour the city where it all started.”
How do you want your audience to feel when they wear this new collection?
AM: “I design with every woman’s body in mind. I want them to exude femininity and confidence while accentuating their natural curves. This entire collection has statement pieces; there's no way that my customers won’t be the centre of attention wearing my pieces.”
Besides clothing, you also debuted two different styles of shoes. Is it safe to say Hanifa will be expanding more into footwear?
AM: “Absolutely! This is only the beginning. This footwear collection was long overdue as I have always loved footwear and have been experimenting with designs for years. Now that we have the space to expand, I’m ready to create more.”
What inspired the Zoe Boot and Zeta Sandal?
AM: “I strive for my customers to not only look good but to feel good as well. When designing these shoes, I wanted them to be comfortable but also unique. The Zoe Boot literally feels like silk and the Zeta Sandal feels like you're walking on air. I also wanted something that reflects the Hanifa brand by being minimalist, bold, and colourful.”