On December 9th, 2023 MP had it's first formal runway presentation debut at Port Philadelphia. My team--a crew assembled of my closest friends and family showed up Saturday morning to act as my models, glam team, production assistants and emotional support. It was a whirlwind of activity with nearly 50 models prepping backstage plus all the designers and crew, but I could not have envisioned a more easeful and successful day.
Micah, Sharon and Ronnie backstage. Image credit: Kai Cho
I was approached to apply for the show by my friend and collaborator Bokeum Jeon, back in June of 2023. At the time I was paring back my commitments...learning to trust my intuition around what projects felt aligned in an effort to create from a place of integrity instead of scarcity. Port was to be a fashion show uplifting the work of independent designers, with a focus on sustainability and size inclusion. It felt very much aligned in values, and a perfect opportunity to move through my fear around dressing people other than myself. I hadn't taken on a project this extensive on my own since completing my thesis in undergrad--nor had I lost as much sleep. After six months of designing, fittings, pep talks, and lots of self directed study, I was left with a collection that I was incredibly proud of and that felt among many other things deeply honest.
Dana prepping Nika with hair and makeup.
Last minute fittings for Sharon and Micah
The show featured seven designers--myself, Canary Canyon, Jasmine Schulte, Aszana, Nesa, Bokeum Jeon, and Meg Beck. Truly a fantastic curation of independent East Coast based designers. There was a through-line of clarity and earnestness...it was optimistic and otherworldly...playful, tender. It felt like an opening; a reminder of the potent worlds we carry, and how life-giving it is to share those worlds with others or allow them to overlap. I am grateful to have shared the stage with such talented designers.
Excerpt from show publication.
Making this collection allowed me time to reflect on my style influences. As someone relatively new to studying the fashion archive, my core references are from my lived experience. Growing up in a predominantly Muslim, and amongst immigrant communities (South Asian, Middle Eastern, North, West and East African), I was surrounded by a sea of cloth. Oversized prints, oversized silhouettes, and oversized personalities made my childhood. The mosque was a sensory overload of color, scent, sound...a mix of culture and origin stories. I find that the characters which emerge in my work come from a similar context. They move together as one organism, yet the pieces have weight and personality on their own. This is part of my draw towards found material, and was the root of my aversion towards making clothes from scratch. I think this is why I’ve felt so much more comfortable styling. It evens the playing field and I become a collaborator, a curator. However I found that in this collection the push and pull was still very present despite having less of a "head start”.
Inspiration board from the collection
Initial sketches for Nika's look (The Root)
I have a new confidence in myself as a designer, and a much deeper respect for the craft of making clothing. I hope to continue honoring my loved ones and community by dressing them, and understanding myself through the act of customizing my avatar...building my world. I’m deeply grateful for the trust and patience of my models and the labor of my crew. Thank you to everyone who made this show possible, I’m so excited for what is to come in 2024. ♡♡
Till next time xx