live out loud is the title of Anifa Mvuemba’s summer 2022 deal for Hanifa, the Washington DC-based label that caught the industry’s attention after its viral Label Rose Congo The 3D show debuted on Instagram Live in May 2020. “A lot of what I do at Hanifa is in tune with me and my individual growth,” the designer said during a preview of the collection during the filming of the video which premieres tonight. “We grew, and I wanted this to represent that growth.”
Over the past two years, Hanifa has grown from an online brand to a loyal member of the American fashion landscape. Not only did his drops sell out often, but he became a celebrity favorite worn by Beyoncé, Gabrielle Union and Sarah Jessica Parker, and he was a recipient of the 2021 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. With this collection, Mvuemba was ready to take notice. of this shift from “emerging” to established. “Last year [in D.C.] was a dream come true, it’s about stepping into the dream and living it,” Mvuemba said.
The collection itself is an explosion of color that successfully balances the contemporary aesthetic that Mvuemba has developed with the myriad of trends that have emerged over the past year. There’s baggy cargo pants, tight chunky knits, cutouts, and the sexy Y2K-ish sensibility that’s pervaded fashion. Some of these shapes are a welcome departure for Mvuemba, an expansion of her design language and a statement of the growth she speaks of. “I’m in a place where I don’t want to make excuses,” she said reflecting on the past year, “I’m a designer and I want to be recognized as such, not for the ‘Instagram thing’. “or like the “black girl”.
Monochromatic outfits with intense colors showed Hanifa’s technical growth. The fit is precise across the wide range of bodies Mvuemba chose for the video and lookbook, and its drape is organic, notable for its lightness. Where she really shone was in the addition of corsetry. A corseted button-up mini dress with a half-draped half-corset torso stood out, as did a corset with exposed silk-covered boning paired with a towel-folded skirt. “We really wanted to master corsets and boning,” Mvuemba said, “we’ve been trying for years, but hopefully this time we’ve succeeded.”
Mvuemba wants to expand into a more formal offering, so she explored fabrics in the space. “I want to be recognized as a global luxury brand without losing our core customer, that’s the gap I’m looking to fill here, to grow with our customer.” This desire is reflected not only in the collection’s evening wear, but in its expansion into footwear. The finale, a skillfully tiered and layered ruffled dress with feather accents, was particularly striking. A fitted dress with a cowl neck also made an appearance.
“I wanted to bring this collection back to our focus on women’s bodies and the female form,” she said as the model tried on the latest dress, “to give something a little different and really show my range.”