As Blavity previously reported, earlier in October, Mvuemba announced on Instagram that Hanifa Bridal was on the way along with a fashion show to give a preview of what custom gowns would be available. Launching something like this was a long time coming for the innovator. In addition, customers will eventually be able to book an appointment and create made-to-order dresses for their special day.
When October 15 arrived, the entrepreneur was anxious but knew it was time to unleash the new addition to her fashion empire: bridal wear. Ready as ever, she had a diverse group of 26 models walk the runway sporting 31 eclectic dresses for the modern everyday woman. The collection also featured accessories and headpieces to pair with different looks. The event took place at the Salamander Middleburg Resort and Spa, a Black-woman-owned luxury “resort and residential experience” that offers “tasteful elegance,” located in Virginia, not far from where the Nairobi, Kenyan grew up in Washington D.C.
Following the show, the fashion designer took a moment to talk to Blavity about her perspective on her fashion show and the market she’s designing for with this new business venture and how “it has truly been a full circle moment” for her that “feels really rewarding.”
Why did you feel now was the time to release your bridal collection?
Anifa Mvuemba: My brand began by taking custom orders a while back, making some bridal looks for clients, and I have been looking forward to the moment when I could produce an entire collection. I’ve always said that the brand really reflects where I am in life. When I started Hanifa, I was in my twenties and needing a birthday dress, so it only seems fitting that our bridal collection launches as I am a bride-to-be. Really though, a bridal collection has always been a dream of mine and has been years in the making.
Who is the woman Hanifa Bridal was made for?
AM: The Hanifa bride is drawn to timeless and minimalist design aesthetics. She prefers clean and understated elegance over elaborate embellishments. She embodies someone who admires the brand’s ability to create simple yet sophisticated wedding dresses, with attention to timeless silhouettes and impeccable tailoring. She appreciates the focus on quality and craftsmanship and desires a wedding dress that reflects the modern bride.
How was it seeing your vision of expanding your fashion house to wedding dresses, which you feel is a “culmination of my years of experience,” become something tangible on a runway?
AM: I think the most challenging part is creating the overall Hanifa Bridal experience. Throughout the process, I’ve realized that Bridal is its own department, and we’re essentially developing a new brand with its own look, feel, and voice. There are a lot of moving parts when and we’re always striving to elevate as a brand by giving our customers the very best experience. Listening to them and placing ourselves in their shoes is what continues to guide us towards this growth.
The resort where the fashion show was hosted was Black woman-owned, why was that important to you as far as the location of the show?
AM: As much as possible, we try to align everything we do with who we are as a brand. When we were touring venues and I learned Sheila Johnson was the owner of Salamander, I knew immediately that this venue made sense for our brand. It’s a gorgeous black woman-owned luxury resort in the DMV area, it only made sense that that’s where we showcased our debut Bridal collection.
Why did you want the debut Hanifa Bridal collection to have a large selection rather than a small one?
AM: There’s looks for every part of the bridal journey, I really wanted to incorporate looks for every bride in this collection.
It seems like you modernized bridal wear to encapsulate the power women hold today. What type of bridal experience did you want to unlock with your dress designs?
AM: I want to encourage our customers to envision their highest, most authentic self. The collection is classic yet modern. It has a timeless and minimalist design aesthetic with an appreciation for feminine silhouettes. There is more of a clean and understated elegance over elaborate embellishments. I wanted something simple yet sophisticated with attention to timeless silhouettes and impeccable tailoring. There’s a focus on quality and craftsmanship, and I think it reflects the modern bride, I am glad that it shows.
Although Hanifa Bridal wear is for all women, the majority of your runway models were women of color and minorities, was that intentional?
AM: We’ve always focused on being inclusive, so that will remain true throughout our bridal designs with ethnicities, sizing, body type, etc. For this collection, I really wanted to incorporate skin-tone mesh pieces that can be customized to each bride’s complexion, so the models were specifically chosen to highlight such features. I’m really excited to see them on our future Hanifa brides of all colors.
Was there a subliminal or unspoken message your collection has for Black women?
AM: I really wanted this collection to focus on self-love and self-worth above anything and I think that especially resonates with women of color. Just as the bride of Christ epitomizes devotion, grace, and feminine strength, our collection aims to empower brides to embrace their own unique radiance, celebrating the limitless woman within. As a brand that encourages our customers to envision their highest, most authentic self, I like to think that we’re leaders in the space of helping women to feel seen.
What are you hoping Hanifa Bridal is recognized for?
AM: The focus on self-love and self-worth above anything. Our hope is that brides will feel seen in our intricate designs. The essence of Hanifa isn’t only in the garments we create but also in the relationships we build with our customers. We understand the significance of each moment in their lives and we strive to design pieces that accompany them every step of the way. We are honored to be a part of their special moments, and our debut bridal collection is only the beginning of this commitment. As a brand that encourages our customers to envision their highest, most authentic self, I like to think that we’re leaders in the space of helping women to feel seen. When it’s all said and done, your memories are yours and should reflect your heart.
To see everything Mvuemba’s fashion line has to offer, visit the Hanifa Bridal site.