Ways of Seeing

#FlashbackFriday- What Morocco, a Neoclassic painting and 1930's fashion have in common.

Written July 1, 2016


Back in 2007 when I was just 2 years out of college I thought "it's about time I create a fashion collection!" I wanted it to reflect who I am and who I wanted to be. I wanted it to be beautiful, modest, elegant and edgy. It all had to be pieces that I, as a Muslim woman who dresses modestly could wear. The iimage below is an illustration I did back then as I was conceptualizing the collection I wanted to create, and the relaxed and regal mood that I wanted to have.


The scenery and the women's relaxed demeanor are based on the female characters in my favorite novel "Abu Musa's Women Neighbors" by Moroccan author and thinker Ahmed Toufic. The illustration is made of mixed media. I used marker, pencil and pen to draw + magazine cutouts for their faces and to create their jewelry. I created the interior design of the room using mostly magazine cutouts. It's very detailed, especially when you get into looking at things like the pillow designs I created. 

There's a scene in Ahmed Toufic's book in which the women of the Sultaness' home  all travel to make Hajj together. I thought that was extraordinary! I thought it was wonderful to read about Muslim women being concerned with their own spirituality  and deciding on their own to make hajj. This story takes place in 14th century Morocco and was so rich in detail and spiritual beauty all while making each character very human and flawed and with their own natural and personal problems. People get married and divorced, some people are handicapped, and there is corruption as well as kindness, love and hate. They live in a port city in which there are Moroccan's, Spaniards and mixed people from various locals. Throughout the book the womens clothing is described as being colorful and vibrant, I brought this imagery to life though the colors in my collection, which were further inspired by 1930's silhouettes, which mostly comprise of long, slim, soft gowns and inspired by a few Neoclassic paintings like this one.

Check out the beautiful draping on the togas! 

5 of these illustrations became styles in my first collection, which I released in 2008 and began selling in 2009. They all had some varying degree of changes done once they were being brought to life, but you may recognize for instance that the middle style was the rough draft of the Twareg, the style on the right, standing is the Cyndi, the one standing 2nd to last on the right became the Nanami, the 2nd style from the left became the Kamilah (lots of edits there), and the 3rd style became the Bilquis. 1 of them was a sketch of a dress I just made for myself but never put in the collection (I don't even know where that thing is now!) and the first style, when it was created was a fail so it got edited out. There was 1 other style that was added to the collection, the Madonna, which I never sketched and only draped and developed out of fabric. At the time when I illustrated these designs I was not inspired by color for each dress. I decided on that after the Muslins were created.

Sauce, a popular boutique in Dubai loved the collection and bought it right away. Later on we began selling these style online and through custom orders.

So now you see how many inspirations and influences come together to create a Nzinga Knight NY collection. Alhumdulillah!


Katie Warren from The Bridge sits down to talk with Nzinga about fashion, nonalcoholic drinks and patriarchy.

“I’m interested in not only having a sense of what I want as a designer, but also having a sense of what’s in the air and what is socially, culturally and emotionally relevant for people,” Knight said in a Brooklyn café near her Clinton Hill studio on a chilly December morning.

Read the full article here

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Mona Haydar's "Hijabi" song named one of Billboards top 20 Protest songs of 2017

I find a lot of the anthems and obsession over hijab on either side of the conversation to be corny. So to my surprise late one summer 2017 night I shed a gansta-tear when I saw Mona’s video for her song “Hijabi”. Today Billboard announced Mona's song to be one of The Best Protest Songs of 2017.... 

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"The Great Reveal"- The Other Side of Modesty (first written Summer 2015)

Let there be great fashion on the outside and "The Great Reveal" with the one(s) you love, someone who'll appreciate your effort and vulnerability..... People may applaud for a little while, enjoying the cheap thrill or trying to help you feel comfortable, but in the end, revealing to EVERYONE is cheap....

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