Anifa Mvuemba Debuts First-Ever Live Runway Show For Hanifa

Getty Images/Shannon Finney

Anifa Mvuemba, founder and designer of contemporary women’s apparel line Hanifa, continues to raise the bar and carve out her own lane within the fashion industry. On Tuesday evening in the designer’s hometown of Washington DC, over 400 guests gathered into the National Portrait Gallery to experience the debut of her fall ’21 collection titled “Dream” in the brand’s first-ever in-person runway show. Many of the guests in attendance were from DC and surrounding areas. Other notable guests in attendance included founder and designer of Pyer Moss Kerby Jean-Raymond, Black Fashion Fair founder Antoine Gregory, and the founder and designer behind Theophilio, Edvin Thompson.

The venue was bursting with bright colours and intricate designs as many attendees arrived wearing signature looks from the brand in anticipation of Mvuemba’s largest collection to date, featuring over 30 looks, including footwear. Guests made their way to their seats under a haze of magenta lighting and the sound of a string orchestra, serenading the crowd with songs from Beyoncé, Rihanna, Drake, and Frank Ocean. The show commenced with a video montage narrated by Mvuemba, showcasing the brand’s past designs, press clips, and behind-the-scenes footage of the runway show’s model casting call. “I have always wanted my impact in fashion to go beyond the clothes,” Mvuemba said as she reflected on the brand’s vision. The montage gave a glimpse into the past, present, and future of Hanifa. At the close of the video, the first model of the night graced the runway wearing a bold blue PVC trench coat paired with the Zoe boot in bone, trailed by a diverse cast of models of various body types, skin tones, and hair textures. From a sleek red power suit completed with a waist-cinching belt to backless sweaters and high-split skirts to the finale’s figure-hugging, floor-length denim dress, every piece immediately caught the eye and told a distinct story.

The fall ’21 runway show debut took place on a monumental day for the designer, as Nov. 16 marked both the brand’s 10-year anniversary and her 31st birthday. The highly anticipated event comes a year and a half after the brand’s virtual debut for the Pink Label Congo collection, inspired by the Congolese designer’s native country. In 2020, Mvuemba’s plans to showcase her collection at New York Fashion Week were stifled by the pandemic. In an effort to sustain her business and to spread awareness on the issues of mineral site conditions occurring in central Africa, Mvuemba decided to move forward with a virtual collection reveal, via Instagram Live. The Maryland-based designer incorporated her love for tech by using 3D renderings of invisible model silhouettes to showcase each look. The show went viral, capturing the attention of many, showing how the future of fashion shows may evolve.

Since launching in 2011, Hanifa has been an ecommerce-only brand garnering its cult following strictly through social media marketing and newsletters. Hanifa’s bold designs have been worn by celebrities such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Zendaya, Lizzo, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Bella Hadid, as well as seen on screen on HBO’s hit series Insecure on Natasha Rothwell. Hanifa’s decade-long journey is a sign that through relatability and continuous innovation, there are truly no limits to how far this brand will continue to soar.

The collection will be available beginning Friday, Nov. 19, exclusively on with prices ranging from USD $300 to $1,500 and sizes starting at XXS and extending to 3XL.

Ahead, take a look at the new collection in all its grandeur.

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