Hanifa Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection


Live Out Loud is the title of Anifa Mvuemba’s summer 2022 offer for Hanifa, the Washington D.C.-based label that came to the industry’s attention after her viral Pink Label Congo 3-D runway show debuted on Instagram Live in May of 2020. “A lot of what I do at Hanifa is in sync with me and my individual growth,” said the designer during a preview of the collection at the filming of the video that is premiering tonight. “We have been growing, and I wanted this to represent that growth.”

Over the last two years, Hanifa has gone from being an online brand to a stalwart member of the American fashion landscape. Not only do its drops often sell out, but it’s become a celebrity favorite worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Gabrielle Union, and Sarah Jessica Parker, and it was a recipient of the 2021 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. With this collection, Mvuemba came ready to make note of that shift from “emerging” to established. “Last year [in D.C.] was a dream come true, this is about stepping into the dream and living it,” Mvuemba said.

The collection itself is an explosion of color that successfully balances the contemporary aesthetic Mvuemba has developed with the myriad of trends that have emerged over the past year. There’s baggy cargo pants, chunky bodycon knits, cutouts, and the sexy Y2K-ish sensibility that has spread throughout fashion. Some of these shapes are a welcome departure for Mvuemba, an expansion of her design language and a statement to 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 as the ‘Black girl.’”

Monochromatic outfits in intense colors showed off Hanifa’s technical growth. The fit is precise across the wide range of bodies Mvuemba cast for both video and lookbook, and her draping is organic, remarkable in its lightness. Where she really shined was in the addition of corsetry. A corseted button-down mini dress with a half corset-half draped torso stood out, as did a corset with exposed silk-covered boning paired with a napkin folded skirt. “We really wanted to master corsets and boning,” Mvuemba said, “we’ve been trying for years, but I hope this time we got it right.”

Mvuemba wants to expand into a more formal offering, so she has been exploring 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 close here, to grow with our customer.” This desire is reflected not only in the collection’s evening wear, but in her expansion into footwear. The finale, a skillfully tiered and layered ruffle gown with feather accents, was particularly striking. A fitted cowl neck gown also hit the spot.

“I wanted to take this collection back to our focus on women’s bodies and the female shape,” she said as a model tried on the last gown, “to give something a little different and truly show my range.”



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