The style set ventured to Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening for the Hanifa Fall 2021 present, grandiosely staged within the courtyard of the Nationwide Portrait Gallery. With delicate pink carpet serving because the runway, lush greenery setting the scene and dwell musicians enjoying classical Rihanna renditions, it made for one of many largest vogue moments within the nation’s capital in years.
The model’s founder and designer, Anifa Mvuemba, informed Fashionista backstage that her assistant initially steered the gallery as a result of its regalness felt becoming for the event. Not solely is it Hanifa’s first in-person runway present, however 2021 additionally marks the model’s tenth anniversary.
“As quickly as I walked in, I used to be like, ‘That is the place we now have to do it,'” Mvuemba mentioned. “I did not know if it was obtainable, I did not know if we had been gonna get it, however I knew I had to get it. I did not care what we needed to do, however I used to be like, ‘We’re getting this area.'”
That dedication is a trademark of Mvuemba’s ethos, each as an entrepreneur and as a designer. Final summer time, for example, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down in-person occasions, she made waves by putting 3D models on a virtual runway — a first-of-its-kind production in the fashion world.
At the time, her business was struggling. She was discouraged, unsure if she could find purpose during such a dark period. “I was crying to my team,” she recalled. “I was saying, ‘People are dying. We can’t be selling clothes. Nobody cares about clothes.'”
But Hanifa is built around inspiring women, her team reminded her. And so, they pivoted to the 3D models, and the rest is fashion history. “We worked hard to put that together,” Mvuemba said. “And we weren’t planning for it to be a viral moment or anything like that, but when it did happen, it was even crazier.”
Hanifa’s inaugural in-person show was worth the wait, with 35 looks being presented in all. According to Mvuemba, the collection is intended to be a retrospective on the brand’s evolution over the last decade.
“Because we’re celebrating 10 years, I wanted to make sure we highlighted what we’ve done in the past,” Mvuemba said. “There’s denim [because] we’ve worked on denim in the past. We worked with prints in the past. And color is a big part of the Hanifa brand.”
Indeed, the collection is a sartorial kaleidoscope of sorts: Highlights include a silky, flaming orange, floor-grazing gown; a sage-green leather mini dress; and a sunny yellow turtleneck shrug. Also debuting on the runway were new footwear styles, including the Zoe boot (a square-toe, over-the-knee style in black and bone) and the Zeta sandal (a minimalist heel in marshmallow, pear and smoked paprika).
One garment in particular — a color-block knitwear piece — was so difficult to produce, it took “maybe 10 times,” to get it just right.
“It was so difficult, but I was rooting for that,” Mvuemba recalled. “We finally got it literally — I think it was last week. I was like, we have to keep going. And that’s usually how I work: When I want something, I go after it.”
See the full Hanifa Fall 2021 collection in the gallery below.