From Jess Sims to Gabrielle Union, "Women Without Limits" Are Wearing Hanifa

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Hanifa designer Anifa Mvuemba just debuted her first live runway show in her hometown of Washington DC, aptly titling her new fall 2021 collection "Dream." That's what her success has felt like so far, anyway. "It's mind blowing every single time," she told me when I asked about all the impressive celebrity dressings she's counted since her brand's debut in 2011. "I usually scream. I always run and share my excitement with my team when I receive amazing news like that, because they work so hard to make it all happen," she said.

"I love to design for women who put forward their own values into their work."

Even though she's still waiting on a call from Rihanna, her ready-to-wear has been spotted on the likes of Bella Hadid, Gabrielle Union, Padma Lakshmi, Lizzo, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sarah Jessica Parker, Peloton's Jess Sims, and Zendaya, who sported her iconic pleated Kinshasha mini on the cover of InStyle for a feature in which she wore solely Black designers. "I think it's a compliment alone to have such iconic celebrities wanting to wear my clothes. I get so excited and still taken back that I'm able to design for such influential women who stand for something," Anifa said, explaining that the colorblock Kinshasha was made to represent the Congo flag. "I felt that I was able to get Congo some recognition, which has always been my goal."

Anifa creates clothing for "women without limits" who value inclusivity and want to highlight their curves, offering up to a size 3X on her website. Her signature white, wavy print that covers the Soraya and Lola silhouettes was developed simply by reimagining and experimenting during her design process in the studio. "I instantly fell in love with how minimal it is and bold at the same time," she said, and she's not the only one who admires it.

Ahead, join Anifa as she walks us through some of her most exciting moments to date where models, industry creatives, and stars showed up to represent her collection. With two new footwear styles introduced to the line this season and more ideas up her sleeve, these will hardly be the last you see.

The Soraya Dress

"Gabrielle Union and Bella Hadid both have such bold and vibrant styles that this dress fits them perfectly. When I designed this dress, I wanted something that was minimal but bold at the same time. I had no prior knowledge that Bella would show up in the dress until Vogue tagged me in the post. I was in complete shock and overwhelmed with so many emotions."

Both Gabrielle Union and Bella Hadid wore the Hanifa Soraya Mini ($259) in plum and white.

The Lola Gown

"This gown exudes sexiness and confidence. She knows what she wants and captivates every room she walks in. Jess Sims wearing the dress was another reminder of why I design and who I design for. I love to design for women who put forward their own values into their work. She looked stunning in my dress, and it's definitely that motivation I always need to remind myself why I design and who I design for."

Jess Sims wore the Hanifa Lola Gown ($289) for a screening of Dancing With the Stars.

The Miya Cardigan

"I had such a fangirl moment when I saw Sarah Jessica Parker wearing the Miya [in Town & Country]. She is such a fashion icon, and I felt like it was further confirmation that I need to continue to design."

The Hanifa Miya Knit Cardigan Dress ($269) comes in a whopping eight shades: purple, red, heather gray, denim blue, emerald, black, orange, and mustard.

The Kinshasha Dress

"The Kinshasha dress has so much meaning behind it as it represents my country, the Congo flag. When I saw Zendaya on the cover of InStyle wearing the dress [worn by Tracee Ellis Ross in Elle above], I felt that I was able to get Congo some recognition — which has always been my goal." The Kinshasha Backless Mini is sold out but retailed for $269.