The fashion media has been awash with positive stories on the response of fashion brands to the challenges of the ongoing global health crisis. For a truly inspirational designer, we need look no further than Anifa Mvuemba. In a prophetic move, the self-taught designer debuted her latest collection on a virtual runway streamed via Instagram, a project she initiated several months prior to the outbreak of Coronavirus. As world experts continue to question how the fashion industry will survive, Mvuemba has potentially showcased the future of the runway.
The new collection for Mvuemba’s label, Hanifa, was launched on Instagram Live on Friday, May 22, and incited quite the social media storm. The unveiling of the Pink Label Congo collection, which has been praised as ‘ground-breaking’ by observers, used three-dimensional digital models that beautifully captured the the movement of the fabric, the vibrancy of colours and the intricacy of the design details with ultra-realistic rendering.
In the recent trend towards the embracing of technology, most major fashion shows are set to take place digitally While Hanifa’s pioneering project has captured attention because of its acute relevancy, it was not conceptualised in reaction to the pandemic. In fact, Mvuemba began creating the show seven months ago. No one could have foreseen the global upheaval caused by the pandemic, but Hanifa was ahead of the game because its leader was proactive, rather than reactive. In her desire to innovate for the sake of progress, as opposed to immediate survival, Mvuemba has demonstrated how ingenuity can be found at all levels of the fashion industry, not just among global experts.
The exhibiting of the Pink Label Congo collection has received admiration for its digital execution, but it had greater meaning for Hanifa’s designer and her dedicated fans. Alongside the celebration of Congolese heritage in her designs, the show poignantly documented the continued suffering of women and children working in the nation’s dangerous mines. Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, an industry marred by illegal mining, human rights abuses and corruption. Hanifa has captured the past, present and future of Congo, and of the fashion industry, all in one mesmerising collection.
By Rebecca Taylor