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Hanifa founder looks back on a decade of fashion with her inaugural show

Photo credit: courtesy of Hanifa

Emerging designer Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa set the bar high for her first in-person runway collection after creating her virtual 3D fashion show during the pandemic and being worn by Beyoncé, Zendaya, Sarah Jessica Parker and Tracee Ellis Ross.

Earlier this week, Mvuemba launched his first exhibition of Walks With Cats at the one and only National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, where hundreds of guests gathered to support. She called this season’s collection “Dream,” which sums up the last 10 years of her business.

Photo credit: courtesy of Hanifa

Photo credit: Courtesy of Hanifa

Behind the scenes, she explained, “every piece reminds me of an era, like last year something I designed, something I designed 5, 10 years ago.” A fan favorite? Hanifa’s ribbed knit dress: seen in the collection, but also worn by her famous friends sitting in the front row of the show.

Photo credit: courtesy of Hanifa

Photo credit: Courtesy of Hanifa

Her secret ingredient, she says, is her team. “This is a time for all of us, we are all working so hard and I am so grateful.” Mvuemba went on to explain that showing DC was special. Not only was this where she made her fashion debut in 2011, the self-taught designer assembled a team that is still based there today. “I wanted to inspire. We don’t have to leave, there are so many creative people here,” she says of living and working in the city. “I wanted to give the opportunity to local artists, 80% of the models are based on DC and I wanted to make sure that we supported them.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Hanifa

Photo credit: Courtesy of Hanifa

The tribute to her knit pieces and previous bespoke pieces was shown in new ways, this time with volume and asymmetrical necklines. Mvuemba explained that she has tried denim before and this is the season she has hit her stride. From high waisted wide jeans with exaggerated cuffs to a cutting edge denim final dress that wrapped up the show. There were of course new iterations of her knit dresses that her fans are buying wholesale, this season with color blocks and variations of sheer knit fabric sheer piecing together.

So what’s the next step for this young designer? Ten more years, at least.

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Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds