More and more we are looking to our phones to scope out the latest products, brands, and designers on Instagram. In the case of Cheyenne Kimora, the 28-year-old designer behind the viral You Are Adorned durag, the social media platform is a way to build community for her brand. And she just got her first major co-sign: Alicia Keys is wearing her custom durag with a Rolen Mouret dress on June 2019 issue of Essence magazine.
"I’ve been designing since 2008. I was initially in college on track to study aerospace engineering — yes this is true lol— but once my love for fashion design took over I shifted gears and changed my major to art history," the Los Angeles native tells Refinery29.
It's fitting she majored in art history because each durag feels like a wearable masterpiece. "The detailing throughout our pieces are all handmade even down to our hand wefted durags," she explains.
Refinery29 caught up with Kimora to learn about the inspiration behind her line, that viral (and newly restocked) durag, and her mission to celebrate elements of black culture that have been “misrepresented, misused, or criminalized.”
Refinery29: What sparked your itch to begin to design your own items?
Cheyenne Kimora: It was the countless hours I saw my dad put into his silk screen company when I was a child. It never looked like a job, or something he was forced to do. He was extremely detailed and believed in craftsmanship. It not only showed but inspired me!
What was the first item you ever created on your own?
The first thing I’ve ever made was a circle skirt in middle school. It was a complete mess, but it made me so proud.
Tell me about your sparkly durag? What inspired it? What has the response been like?
My Blackness. I wanted to honor Black culture because it’s often misrepresented, misused, or criminalized. I wanted people that look like me to know that they are more than the image perceived, that they are light and that they are love! And I wanted to make sure that I also bridged the gap for anyone who doesn’t look like me by educating them on my blackness so it can no longer be misrepresented.
As for what inspired it, one day I came across an article where a school banned kids from wearing them because they deemed it gang related. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever read. In Black culture the durag is known to preserve a woman’s hair, or to enhance a man's wave pattern in his hair — absolutely nothing to do with gangs. It also made me think of the person who is not the same skin color of me who read that article and the fear it must've instilled. So it then inspired me to take that negative stereotype, and turn it into something so beautiful that it could no longer be criminalized.
What other products are you working on that you will release soon?
My team and I have been working diligently to create thought provoking, feel good content. I can’t say just yet what we’re working on but know it will make you proud of the skin you’re in or you’ll understand my culture just a little bit more and how it actually is delicate.
What do you hope to be doing in 5 years?
My end goal in all of this is to change the story. To be the change that I want to see in this world. In about 5 years, I still see us sticking to our roots with our limited pieces, but expanding our resources and our message in so many different forms.
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.