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Congolese fashion designer makes history with virtual fashion show

Image credit: Vogue

Sending shockwaves through the fashion industry, Congolese fashion designer Anifa Mvuemba made history on Friday night, May 22, with her virtual fashion now.

Going live on Instagram, Anifa debuted her latest collection Pink Label Congo.

It took Anifa seven months to create her masterpiece, providing a spectacle many have never seen before. The unique project resulted in futuristic ghost-like 3D renderings in place of models, and a pitch-black backdrop in place of a show space. The pieces undulated across the backdrop in a mesmerising manner.

The move was in response to the uncertainty surrounding the fashion industry during the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to affect many of the bi-annual shows, already causing some cancellations.

Of the six looks that make up Mvuemba's virtual collection, one is the Kinshasa pleated minidress - named for the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This dress opened the show, with its colours matching those of the Congolese flag.

Image credit: Vogue

The designer told British Vogue: "The the red represents the blood, suffering and oppression that the Congolese people have gone through", whilst "the blue is the peace and the yellow represents the hope and future of the Congo".

Included in her politically-charged online show was a series of clips highlighting the impact of mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an issue Mvuemba was keen that her designs should reflect.

Over 60 per cent of the world's cobalt - a key element in lithium batteries - comes from the Congo. Mining has had immense impacts on the country's air and water quality, polluting systems with toxic chemicals and also allowing for children as young as six to be put to work.

Female power and strength is another a powerful theme of Mvuemba's collection, telling British Vogue that she "really wanted to show a diverse range of models and do it a little different from what we typically see on the runway". The designer went on to say: "I wanted to highlight the women in my life, the women that I grew up seeing and what they did, and honour them in that way".

Ahead of the times, Mvuemba's idea for a digital fashion was something she always wanted to do. The outbreak provided a reason to push those ideas forward and make her virtual fashion show a reality. An immensely successful and powerful one at that.

Anifa's groundbreaking showcase was met with much-deserved praise. Some 10,000 fashion fans tuned in to see the live stream of Mvuemba's much-anticipated unveiling of her collection.


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