FASHION WEEK: Nzinga Knight, American Muslim Fashion Designer, Innovates On The Catwalk
New York Fashion Week will no doubt see many parts of the female body exposed in the name of art, but not during Nzinga Knight's show. Recently highlighted in The Huffington Post as one of Harlem's visionary designers and a recipient of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award, Knight, an American Muslim, likes to create designs that leave something to the imagination — and that will no doubt get attention for the lack of visible skin in an industry increasingly accustomed to baring it all. “Definitely in my work people look at it and say that it’s really different and fashion’s really about being different,” said Knight, who works out of a studio in Brooklyn's Pratt Institute.
Knight's self-described look is sensual and mysterious — clothes that abide by her Islamic moral codes, but which envision "a woman who's happy to be a woman." Knight launched her line in 2008 to supply what she saw as a niche market unsatisfied with current trends. “I felt a lot of women were wearing things because that’s what the magazines told them. It seemed each designer had the same point of view,” Knight said. “My aesthetic was something really missing in the market.” So what can you expect from Knight's designs? Bold colors, hand-sewn beads and ruffled hems for the woman who "definitely has places to go," Knight said, like the green Kamilah dress below made out of 100% silk satin crepe with an asymmetrically draped neckline and A-line hem — already sold out on her website.
A native New Yorker, Knight says her style is inspired by her unusual background. "Becoming a young woman within a family of seven vibrant Caribbean women, great fashion was paramount. Growing up in a family with Islamic values coverage was also important," Knight told The Huffington Post. "As I became a young woman I began to have my own self-discovery and realized that dressing with high-style and a sense of mystery allowed me to feel and look attractive and be the confident woman that I wanted to be." But her motivation is a universally feminist one: “I think that women in this society aren’t allowed just to stand on their own merit,” Knight opined. “For most of the women who really make it, you know, they have to take their clothes off. That’s the game they have to play. I’m telling a story that people aren’t telling."
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