Hanifa’s 3D Fashion Show Hints at Future of Fashion
By: Mariah Thomas
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep everyday life at a standstill, creatives are finding ways to expand their brand and utilize social media. One fashion designer, Anifa Mvuemba, developed a plan to make fashion shows more accessible by releasing her latest collection on Instagram Live.
On Friday, May 22, the Congolese designer and founder of contemporary brand Hanifa, debuted her new collection Pink Label Congo via 3D renderings. Inspired by the history and injustice happening in Congo and other African countries, Mvuemba’s nine-piece collection featured an array of vibrant colors draped on full-figured three-dimensional bodies.
The long-sleeved pleated mini Kinshasa dress opened the show, its colors matching the Congolese flag in red, blue, and yellow.
“The red represents the pain and the blood and suffering of the country,” Mvuemba said. “The blue represents peace, and then the yellow star represents the hope of the country.”
Every piece in Mvuemba’s collection told a story – from the Zaire denim set representing the grace of Congolese women to the Mài Maxi Dress – a floor-length gown emblazoned with images of the Congolese River.
“I want these pieces to tell a story of meaning. I want them to remind us to be intentional about what we create. Not for clout or for Instagram likes, but for the sake of meaning what we say by storytelling through our designs,” the designer said.
Mvuemba had plans to create a digital fashion show even before the stay-at-home orders began to come into fruition – though she wasn’t expecting to release one so soon. Having started her fashion career at the age of 21, Mvuemba is a self-taught designer and made sure to expand her knowledge on 3D design software while developing Hanifa’s core collection.
It was during the pandemic when she realized the timing of the show would be a perfect fit. The show was developed over five years and seven months, as Mvuemba and her team struggled with glitches even within the first hour of the virtual runway debut. Due to a software blockage, Mvuemba pivoted her show from the main Hanifa account to her other page, Hanifa Bridal.
The virtual show enveloped its viewers into the world of Congo and the deeply rooted iniquity happening in the country. Moments before the show began, a mini-documentary was played showcasing the oppression uncovered by the media. Viewers were informed of the negative environmental and human health effects of mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
With Congo making up 60 percent of the world’s cobalt production, women and children suffer under the sweltering heat and little pay during work. Pollution fills the air and contaminates the water. Mvuemba made sure audiences were educated on the issues happening in a country that may be far from where they lived, yet was relatable in the decency they deserved as human beings.
“I really wanted to show a diverse range of models and do it a little different from what we typically see on the runway,” Mvuemba said. “I wanted to highlight the women in my life, the women that I grew up seeing and what they did, and honor them in that way.”
Mvuemba’s fashion show was the epitome of accessibility. Not only did her models showcase diversity with their curvaceous silhouettes, but the show generated a worldly and mixed audience. More than 9,000 viewers tuned into the show and praise for this game-changing presentation erupted across social media. This show was free, inclusive, and illustrated the beauty that comes when fashion and technology collide.
Shop the full Hanifa Pink Label Congo Collection here.