Being Lateef in my work.

24 March 2024

Being Lateef in my work.

I want to tell my story and create my story and part of me wants to do it on a platform like instagram. Another part just wants to journal as I typically would and let my messages be found by the ones The creator guides to them. I never again want to do or not do because of someone else’s gaze. It is the biggest trap. It is hurtful to the soul and kills creativity, effect and confidence, true confidence and I know it well. 

I‘m not a tragedy but I have not put out a collection in 12 years now. I have steadily been designing and my work is timeless. I am proud of the body of work I have created and happy to share it when I do.

A few years ago I did my artist friend Leslie Hewitt’s wedding reception gown which was amazing. I would like to begin my journey now of creating bodies of work that are beautiful, inspired by Al Khaliq and a great contribution to society. 

Here, I’d like to document my journey. Perhaps I’ll put mood-boards here. Inspirations. Maybe some sketches. I don’t think I should be and certainly don’t want to be afraid to put things out. In the past, in my 20’s and 30’s some of my styles namely the Cyndi gown and the Twarq dress got knocked off by an Arab design company and a Chinese company. They even used my photos… the dress on the model in several color ways. I remember a naive I suppose Muslimah tagging me on Facebook to show me that she had on the Madonna dress for Eid. She didn’t buy the Madonna dress from me. It was a not as well made knock off she had done by some seamstress. The way some people don’t know what’s right from wrong is crazy. 

What I can do and what I will and am doing is asking Allah for his protection and to make me successful in his name and with the gifts that he has given me. 

I noticed that as I was reading the last 2 blog posts I felt emotional. It’s 2-3 years since I wrote those 2 and I can sense I was trying to break out of a cocoon. It’s now 2024 and I’m 43 and I’m wise in different ways. I honor that I have a right to my time and happiness and am not willing to let anyone or thing control me. That has been a long journey. I’m 43 and I realize that I have a right to the greatest love and expression and reliance on Allah. I have a right to true and big belief and sometimes that’s just a secret between me and my creator. 

I’m so grateful for where I’ve been in life. I’m so grateful for where I’m going. I’m grateful for now. 

the thing I love most about being a fashion designer and artist is how wise and confident it helps me be. That’s how I know it’s for me. I feel so self-assured and faithful as I’m designing and as I’m interacting with other creative people and even artists of the past through their writings. I feel like I’m stranding as the being God wants. I feel whole. So thank you Allah! 

It’s currently Ramadan and I spent 2 hours doing dhikr and duas. Sometimes I do it until I feel the weights lift off me. Today I did the dhikes that are my prescriptions and returned to doing the duas that I used to do daily that take abt 30 minutes… mostly prophetic duas. I then thought to lookup my bro-in-law Maurice’s blog for an article of his that he mentioned over dinner last night. Maurice is very Lateef and I didn’t quite understand him early on in my sister’s marriage to him. But as I looked at his well-done article I then felt to return here. I like that he does his writings because he likes to write and research. And he’s good at it and he keeps it up and he does it in the format he appreciates or that suites him. 

That characteristic of not needing attention in order to do is so needed. And I do also pray Allah spread my work widely and let me benefit in every way from it as well as others. But the doing part is mostly private and that’s what I have to appreciate and bring my dedication to- fisabilillah! 

Show up as yourself. Let God handle the rest! 1/27/21

First written January 27, 2021

During Covid a lot of us have had that feeling of not being seen so much, we feel less visible and known to the word. If you feel this way let's be honest, you're not exaggerating. I get it, we literally are not being seen nearly as much as we were this time last year and well, it's been this way for almost 11 months. 

I decided to go shopping in November and again in January because you know what? Things are very much still happening in fashion as well as in my spirit and I deserve to be self-expressed. My new coat and boots arrived yesterday and I wore them around the block as I took my morning walk. I felt really good in my new look. The only person I made eyes with and shared words was my super who held the door as I entered. I felt like he gave a bigger hello than usual and he even gave salams for the first time. He's a non-practicing Muslim from Albania (I recently learned this). I felt that feeling again of the joy people feel when they see me at my best.  

I was in a bit of a fashion slumber for a few months and I recently woke up to it when I heard from a stylist who gave a spirited talk about being intentional and aligned and how much our personal style is about that. We're either aligned or not. Being intentional or not. One things for certain is that through fashion we're always communicating something. 

It's not about who's seeing me.

I used to wear... let's call it unthoughtful clothing in my neighborhood if I was just going out for a 15 minute stroll to move my body and get some sun. I though it was okay. I wasn't totally busted but if you saw me you might say- "Nzinga, is that you?".... "No!" lol 😆. 

I only noticed I had fallen into a slump recently when I spent the holidays in NJ with my folks. I brought some nice clothes with me but we stayed pretty local for the entire 2 weeks that I was there and I was okay with it because I'd had such a busy time in the weeks prior I was happy to have an abundance of unscheduled time. I committed to going for walks at least every other day and with my old way of thinking threw on some tapered sweatpants or loose jeans, my sneakers, a coat that used to be cool but is a lil old now and just headed out for my walk. I had no expectations for my life with this outfit on. No thoughts of who might see me and how I was representing myself. It was Nzinga in the raw... or better yet Nzinga in the poor... cause literally that's kinda how I looked. Just not amazing! 

...things are still happening, life is still happening, love is still happening, YOU ARE STILL HAPPENING!

Regardless of anything that's happening, even the tragedy of Covid and it's domino effect on our social lives things are still happening, life is still happening, love is still happening, YOU ARE STILL HAPPENING! There's no better reminder of this for me than the fact that I have 2 Bridal clients right now. One fabulous artist who's marrying the man of her dreams and another childhood friend who I always though was fabulous- she's celebrating her 2nd marriage. Both women in their 40's. Dream clients really. The 1st is literally my ideal customer prototype and the 2nd is too but in a different way, one of my 1st fashion designer experiences was when I was 19 working on her wedding dress with my uncle! She was the most glorious looking Muslima bride I'd seen and I got a chance to be a part of making that happen.

So back to showing up AS YOU ARE! Let's think about what that really means. What do we really mean by wanting to be seen and accepted for who we are? Who are we really? No matter what your spiritual tradition is or depending on it scripture says- You are beautifully and wonderfully made. The creator tells you that God is beautiful and he loves beauty. There's nothing stated about the human being that says who we are when we are people of faith is lowly or should be expressed as such. We're told to put on our best clothes and celebrate life. 

"For people to see you for who you are you need to express it and show them. That has always meant and included fashion." 

Bottom line is you don't need a reason. No, better yet you are the reason. For you to be who you are you need to be it, embody it. For people to see you for who you are you need to express it and show them. That has always meant and included fashion. 

You won't feel good in old shoes or clothing you don't believe in and like I said life is truly still happening. People are still getting married, having children. all of it. As someone said to me, the manager at my local grocery store may have a son or brother he'd introduce me to. 

You have the power to make a person smile or make them frown. You know this, other people have had that power over you too. So what are you going to do?

Show up as yourself. Let God handle the rest!

I'm here. Written 3/9/2022

I have been waiting for me. 

I never gave up on me. 

It's why and the real life version of Nzinga Knight, the designer has always existed in some form for all of the past 20 years. 

I needed to get something clear. 

It's that my worth and value exists in nothing that has anything to do with this world. My worth and value is absolute. It is clear and un-waivering. It was established at birth, no pre-birth. I can't do anything about it like i can't do anything about Allah except value him and act in accordance with my knowledge of him or suffer in the absence of his recognition. He is who he is and what he creates and determines about what he created is truth and there's nothing I can do about the truth except recognize it or suffer from my ignorance. 

I used to care about the fashion industry and that was a big problem because the fashion industry isn't something to care about. It's not only big and vast but it's by definition insignificant and an illusion. As fashion is ever-changing, to invest ones care into that aspect is missing the point. To invest my care into being excellent at expressing myself, be excellent at being a conduit for what The Creator wants to bring into existence through me.... now that is worth my time and attention. 

But I was popular and well liked throughout the New York fashion industry from the time I was in college. I was going to Fashion Week shows while no other students even thought to go and I'd sit oftentimes in the first few rows. I was friends with and would often visit owners of fashion houses, factory owners I knew, designers I used to work with or met just to talk and learn from them. I was personable and felt like I belonged. I had connections. I still do and this has always been a key part of my personality. I authentically connect with people. You might see me talking to someone deep in convo and think it's just that moment but no, we've likely been friends for 15 years and you didn't know, or we were in some group together. 

Just yesterday I was cleaning and organizing my studio which has for months been a neglected room in the South-West corner of my apt. I came across a letter from Nancy Whiskey/ Canon 

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