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Nzinga Knight in "Project Runway 2014"
Nzinga Knight Project Runway 2014
Nzinga Knight from "Project Runway 2014" is one of the contestants in Season 13 of the Lifetime reality fashion design competition series. She is a 33-year-old designer from Brooklyn, New York.

Here is an interview with Nzinga Knight:

Describe your family:

I come from a large family. Education, healthy living, creativity, spirituality, religion and travel is important to us. My parents are from the Caribbean and South America. My mother is Guyanese, and my father is from Trinidad. They came to the US as teens and have been married since they were 20 and 21. I have five lovely sisters spread out across the world. My family lives across the world, in the Caribbean, South America, Europe, the Arabian Gulf and North America. Most of my relatives are either Christian or Muslim. We are a happy, loving, kind and easygoing family; both to each other and to people we engage with.

Past jobs?

Marc Jacobs Collection intern, production associate at Jones NY, designer, freelance consultant and production coordinator, fashion instructor at Pratt Institute, makeup artist/color specialist at Sephora, museum tour guide at the Studio Museum in Harlem, peer educator — my very first job when I was 16 was educating teens about HIV & STD prevention and abstinence.


Family and close friends call me Zingy sometimes.

When did you realize you had designer potential?

I first knew I had designer potential when I took my first basic sewing and pattern-making class at FIT. Even though my instructor hadn't taught many techniques I came up with really cool designs — interesting peplum jackets with tripunto techniques — and really maximized and expanded upon my skills. From there I applied for fashion schools and transferred from the fine art program at Pratt Institute to the fashion design program. My mom first knew I had designer potential when as a kid I'd sketch shoes realistically.

First garment you ever made?

A dress for a wedding I attended.

What's your design training/schooling, etc.?

Pratt Institute, BFA fashion design, on-the-job training and lots of experimentation on my own.

Have you won any awards for your designs/work related to design?

Yes, CFDA Best of School fashion design award, DCA and NYFA grant for design work, Elevate Culture grant, Citi-Group Power Up Business Competition grant.

Strengths as a designer?

Communicating my ideas, cultural sensitivity, research, pattern-making, sewing, draping, 3D design.

Weaknesses as a designer?

Estimating how long it will take to complete a garment.

What are your influences?

My influences in the past have been designers like Vionette, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, historical events, fine art, my travels, films, New York and nature. My current influences are performers, celebrities, fashionistas, street style, Sheikha Mozah ... lots of street fashion. I love looking at what Indonesian fashionistas are wearing, Middle Eastern Gulf style. I love looking at Asian soap operas, African soap operas like "An African City," and seeing how the African designers are fusing traditional fabrics with modern design. I look at everything — gallery exhibits, magazines. I look at shows like "Basketball Wives" (a guilty pleasure) to see the kind of twist, flair and extra something some of the women like Malaysia give to high-end designer clothing. I'm currently inspired to create pieces that will give women amazing street style and special-occasion style. I'm ultimately interested in making women look cool, elegant, edgy and individual. My aesthetic is evolving, and I'm asking myself, "What do I want to wear when I need to show up looking fierce?" I'm creating scenarios and examining people that embody what I think fashion is at its best and designing into that.

What's playing on your iPod when you're designing?

You mean my iPhone? :) Music by Phantogram, Rihanna, Beyonce, LaBelle, Janelle Monae pandora station, La Roux, Nero, Wale, Sneaker Pimps, Bjork, Sun Ra, Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, Amy Winehouse, Thelonious Monk, Madcon, Kito & Reija Lee, Satigold, MGMT, Phoenix.

Favorite material or fabric to work with?

Surprisingly, my favorite fabric to work with is cotton. It is the easiest and very comfortable. But I don't use it much in my work because I have focused on evening-wear. For my wardrobe though, I use it. My second favorite fabric which I use most and handle well is chiffon. It is the most difficult but I enjoy it because it is so delicate, pliable and emotive.

Item you're most proud of designing?

The Twareg gown is the item I'm most proud of designing. It's beautiful, flattering, edgy, modest and modular — it has a drape that can turn into a scarf. It's been one of my best-selling gowns, and it's sold across the U.S. and Dubai. This gown is so great it's been copied across the world. There are companies based in Indonesia, India, China and California claiming to sell it, and it has influenced companies in Dubai to do a knock-off version. Though I wish to get the money from my designs myself, and I fear what the knock-off version looks and feels like, on the upside I can say that my designs (and this design in particular) have been influential. The fabric I used, silk jersey, is extremely soft and comfortable, yet once again not easy to work with. The drape was also difficult, so it's a proud achievement.

Favorite designer(s)?

Chloe, Pamella Roland, Muccia Prada, Givenchy, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Martin Margiela, ThreeAsfour, Valentino, Bishme Cromaterie, Marchesa. There are many both established and up-and-coming!

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Where does Nzinga Knight live? Find out here.

Age: ∼35 years old
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Current Residence: Brooklyn, NY

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