Anifa Mvuemba’s first bridal presentation for Hanifa exuded an air of sophistication. Hosted at the stunning Black-owned Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia, the sprawling grounds were the perfect backdrop for Hanifa’s latest venture into the bridal market. Ahead of her show, the designer shared that she wanted to execute an intimate experience that felt like a wedding while being inclusive and accessible. To achieve this, she invited her top customers, editors, and local brides she personally knows.
“With bridal, I’ve always wanted to be in a space where I can create custom couture gowns,” she said nearly an hour before her show. Mvuemba also emphasized her mission to change the perception of luxury. She cited her 2021 show in Washington, D.C., where everyone sat front row, regardless of their status, as an example of her disruptive intentions. She goes on to express that one notion that also speaks to disrupting the bridal market is creating a show where her Black customers feel seen on the runway. “When you think of couture, when you see those beautiful shows it’s hard to see yourself in those pieces because you don’t have access to it.” Her way of subverting this ideal is to shatter this glass ceiling by creating bridal gowns, separates, and accessories at accessible price points.
In the collection, Mvuemba offered her own interpretation of what today’s brides might desire accompanied by elegant hairstyles created with Mielle products. The first look featured a posh, lengthy white cape-esque gown that glided gracefully down the runway. Other options include designs with intricate corset bodices. One dress, in particular, featured a satin bottom and a glittered nude bodice, while another option in a deeper brown boasted thousands of beads encrusted into the fabric. The collection also showcased a spectacular ball gown made of white silk and a ruched tulle number with an oversized bow at the bottom. The final look, an exquisite off-white gown with raw hemming on the layered exterior, marked the dawn of Anifa’s new era.
The collection was meticulously crafted and held profound meaning for the designer. She mentioned it felt like a full circle moment, especially considering that she had created her first custom bridal gown nearly 10 years ago. Launching an entire bridal line is one of many strategic decisions she is making to expand her business empire. “I [want to be] a billionaire,” Mvuemba notes.
Before our conversation ended in a room filled with journalists and reporters, Anifa expressed gratitude for her talented team of designers who are constantly pushing her to grow and learn. “I’m always a student, I’ve had to go through 12 years of Hanifa to get to this point,” she adds. “The intricacy of some of the pieces, if you look at where we started to where we are now, it’s mind-blowing.”