Prêt-À-Poundo: Yumnah Najah's Queen Collection 'La Reine'
It is an interview with designer Yumnah Najah about the Spring 13 collection called "La Reine".
*All pictures by Laura Little Photography
Hand-painted jewelry line Yumnah Najah Designs is created by the young, NYC-based artist and designer Yumnnah Najah — a woman who boasts a natural artistic talent and lets her instinct drive her creations. Today, she will be launching her new collection called "La Reine"("The Queen" in french).; inspired by metallic prints, this spring collection is different from her previous one, focusing on endless unique patterns with strong linear themes.
"La Reine" features bold, bright, vibrant colors and reflects Yumnah Najah's unique vision and signature. Najah states, "La Reine is for the woman who carries herself like royalty and isn't a stranger to bright colors, patterns, and shapes that make a statement. She is comfortable embracing all that makes her unique and she turns heads by exuding an unquestionable presence". Designer, artist, and Okayafrica store model Reign Apiim is the newest face of Yumnah Najah Designs' Spring Collection. "Reign was the perfect fit and a true inspiration for this collection", Najah says, "She embodies everything this collection represents--freedom of creativity and creative expression. She is comfortable with herself to the point where she inspires the people around her to be comfortable and let their guard down. Reign is a true YND woman and a true "queen."
Who is Yumnah Najah? Where are you from?
I'm an artist and designer of Yumnah Najah Designs, a hand-painted jewelry collection. I'm from Harlem, New York.
How did you start creating and when did you start considering jewelry?
[It all started from] My frustration with not being able to find accessories that spoke to my imagination and my fashion needs. I was on a quest to find bold, unique accessories and couldn't find anything to match the vision in my head. That's when I decided to merge my love for art and painting with my love for accessories, and I launched Yumnah Najah Designs in the Fall of 2010.
Did you study fashion and/ or jewelry design?
I have been designing jewelry for two years now. My painting technique developed over many years. Reaching back even to my earliest art lessons in school, I have layered techniques learned from many art teachers. The artistic community is very generous and other jewelry artist have mentored me towards discovering my unique modes of expressing the styles in my imagination.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. In nature, in the book store, while I'm traveling. The best inspiration comes to me from being observant of my surroundings. I find abundant color scheme, texture and pattern inspirations in every type of environment. I love to study and get inspiration from other artists, especially from the Harlem Renaissance era like Jacob Lawrence and William Johnson. Another influence in my approach is Vincent Van Gogh. His creative drive was intensely personal.
What is your brand?
The Yumnah Najah brand is focused on creating pieces for women who are comfortable with their unique sense of style and taste and aren't afraid of standing out.
How would you describe Yumnah Najah designs signature in one line?
Bold, eye-catching & elegant.
What makes it so special?
One of the things that makes the pieces so special is the time and care that goes into painting each one. Every piece is painted by hand and no two pieces are exactly a like. Every woman wearing Yumnah Najah Designs has a piece that is unique and can never be replicated, and that's very special.
Do you think that you are bringing something new?
With each collection I try to expand and build upon the last one. When you're tapping into you're creativity and open to receiving inspiration you'll never run out of ideas to keep the designs fresh.
What is this collection's inspiration? Could you describe it to us and tell us what was different from the previous one?
When I was creating La Reine I was inspired and focused on creating endless unique patterns through experimenting with strong linear themes. I had fun creating variety through positioning and repositioning lines in different ways.
What is your masterpiece? The one that represents this collection.
It's always hard for me to choose, because all of the pieces are a reflection of what the collection represents in some way. But I always love wearing statement necklaces and the Aslin necklace (pictured) has become one of my absolute favorite pieces. The lines, the colors, the shapes--it's so fun and bright, and it can be worn so many ways.
What makes a good look?
I think a good look comes from feeling good about yourself first and foremost. If you're confident and comfortable in what you have on, it's a good look.
Which African singer or band would you like to see wearing one of your piece?
I love Shingai Shoniwa's creative and fun sense of style. She exudes confidence and her fashion and accessory choices are a reflection of that. I'd love to see her wearing some of my pieces.
What is the distinction between style and fashion?
I think Coco Chanel said it best, "fashion changes, but style endures." The trends of the fashion season will come and go, but if you develop your own sense of style it's something internal, and no change of trends can change that.
If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be?
I think that fashion industry has an important place in the world, but too often society focuses on the clothing, and not the people wearing them.
Today, we have the emergence of many African fashion weeks in many countries. This evolution is the proof of the existence of African fashion, should African designers be present in regular fashion weeks, is there any discrimination?
There's definitely discrimination, especially when many designers are inspired by the work of African fashion and include this in their designs during fashion week without their being any representation of African designers.
What do you think of African fashion and its evolution?
African fashion is freedom. The prints, the colors, the cuts — there is so much fun and creativity within African fashion and that's what makes it so unique.
What are your hopes for the African fashion?
That more people will continue to see its value and place in the fashion industry as well as it's versatility.
How does it feel to be featured in Prêt-À-Poundo?
Prêt-À-Poundo is a place for that allows designers and creative visionaries of the African diaspora to shine, so it's truly an honor.
Describe Yumnah Najah in one word.
Bold & feminine.