There's something a bit hypnotic about that Original David. He's funky, a bit on the funny side, and downright nostalgic. Original David is the latest creation from doe-eyed designer Rakiyt Zakari (pronounced rocki-ette). The line, which some might describe as a funkadelic ode to hip-hop, combines an infectious blend of humor, culture, and style, all courtesy of Ms. Zakari herself. The Norfolk, Virginia-raised, Nigerian-bred designer is no novice to the fashion scene, having produced a women's ready-to-wear collection, Rakiyt Zakari, for fall 2001 Miami Fashion Week. Since the showing, Zakari has dressed the likes of Anthony Hamilton, Trey Songz, The Roots and Big Daddy Kane to name a few. ESSENCE.com caught up with the Howard University grad to discuss her claim to fame, music as inspiration, and just why we can't get enough of David.
ESSENCE.COM: How did the Original David come about?
RAKIYT ZAKARI: It was definitely need-based. I thought I was ready to do a launch for [Rakiyt Zakari]. So, I went out and bought a bunch of T-shirts that said "Who is Rakiyt?" to promote the line. I ended up putting the shirts on the runway. After the show, I had a bunch left over and I had to flip them somehow.
ESSENCE.COM: Your company website reads, "Let's be innovators and connectors." What does this mean?
ZAKARI: You know how people have six degrees of separation? I feel like, why not be the sixth degree or the third or the fourth and connect with different cultures. Everyone tiptoes around everybody. I wanted to play with this, show my sarcastic side.
ESSENCE.COM: What can we expect from your upcoming collection?
ZAKARI: More women's and kids—that's my heart. I wanted to do stuff for the edgy woman that was not all pastel. I design for the woman that likes to be relaxed and likes to be cool. They're not contained. They're quirky. It's more about buying something that expresses who they are. People associate femininity with being dolled up; it's more about women being comfortable.
ESSENCE.COM: On your blog, you don't describe yourself as a sneaker head, which might surprise some people. How would you describe your personal style and can we find hints of that in the collection?
ZAKARI: My personal style is everything. The colors, composition and balance, that's a part of my style. I'm not like a sneaker head, but I'm a hip-hop head. It goes into the whole line. It appeals to the sneaker-head culture. It's clean, intelligent and sarcastic. It means more than the design. Every piece has a story behind it.
ESSENCE.COM: What do you hope to accomplish from the Original David? Do you have an agenda?
ZAKARI: I want to make it a bigger brand. To let people see the broader spectrum. The Original David has a philosophy that can branch into different areas, books, cartoons. In every language, there's a David. Don't be scared. Take a chance and understand what it's all about. You can wear whatever you want. Every piece is coming from me.
Check out more styles from the Original David collection by visiting www.theoriginaldavid.com. ESSENCE.com readers will receive 30% off all purchases on the site when you enter ESSENCE. Offer expires March 15, 2009.