I believe that in order for society to gain a wider horizon, we have to be willing to acknowledge other people with differences.”

 After her self-made prom dress went viral, high-school senior Kyemah McEntyre built her own brand, Mind of Kye. Now in her senior year of college, she continues to push the boundaries of style through celebrity clients on the red carpet and in her own collections. Read on to hear how she communicates power through clothing, customizes her own wardrobe and collaborates with her high-profile clientele.

BR: You designed your own prom dress. Tell us about your inspiration and design process. 

Kyemah’s prom dress, shot by Christopher McCormick for NJ.com

I started to design my prom dress years before I actually went to prom. My mom is an educator, so we always had a lot of documentaries around the house. I became fascinated with history and much of my childhood was spent questioning the world and expressing myself through art. I always saw prom as my Cinderella moment, a chance to prove something. The entire city would come out to see how beautiful everyone looked. Prom marked the end of my years as a high-school student, which meant I was going to be able to finally enter the real world.

I decided on using African print or a print of my own years beforehand, but it wasn’t until a few months before prom that I finally decided to use red African Angelina Print. The Disney princess gowns I saw as a child inspired the silhouette. The cinched waist and billowy skirt combined with African print called for an even greater conversation of history. I believe that in order for society to gain a wider horizon, we have to be willing to acknowledge other people with differences. It was a message for the girls in my community, that beauty can be self-defined.

BR: Designing your own prom dress requires a strong POV. How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is just groovy. I’m inspired by the idea of freedom and uncommon combinations. I like to style similar tones of one color, that’s why you’ll often see me in a full ensemble that explores one section of the color wheel.

It was a message for the girls in my community, that beauty can be self-defined.”

BR: How do you push boundaries with your personal style?

Most of my looks come from pure emotion. I have a black cable-knit sweater that I pulled apart and let naturally unravel over the years—it’s one of my favorite pieces. I’ll make an old jacket new again by painting it or adding more pockets. One time, I couldn’t find a tee to match my mood, so I just painted one of the white tees that I had laying around. That day, I walked out of the house with a partially wet tee, but at least I felt free. My style is a forever-fluctuating finesse!

BR: You got to try some of our new styles. What did you think?

I wore a pair of your navy windowpane Ryan Slim-Straight Pant and olive green Plush Duster Cardigan with my own safari vest tucked in. To finish the look, I wore burgundy boots and a tan bag. This combination was a nice arrangement of autumn colors. I really enjoyed the pants because the pink windowpane stripes against the navy blue really made my outfit pop.

BR: As a young designer, your style is rapidly evolving. How do you push the boundaries of fashion and style with Mind of Kye?

Mind Of Kye explores identity and purpose through the worldwide language of visuals, providing a unique way of living through expressive pieces. Sometimes, thread and fabric aren’t enough to get my message across, so I have to use actual cowrie shells or hair. The act of designing is quite physical. It is an energy that is created in the process but will live on frozen in time through that piece. I cherish those moments I share with my work before they’re released to the public. It is an emotional process, but also a very powerful one. I blur the lines between fashion and art, because, in my practices, they both require the same amount of passion and serve the same purpose.

BR: Who is the Mind of Kye customer? What does she want to express with her wardrobe?

My customer is an explorer, who wants to engage in the world, to listen and to be heard.

BR: You once said, “Powerful doesn’t always have to feel like a tailored suit. Perhaps it can flow like freedom.”  In what ways can fashion and clothing communicate power?

It’s important to think of power in multiple ways, or even to think of power as freedom. I think there’s been a terrible misconception of femininity and its attributes to life. Instead of thinking of feminine energy as weak, I tend to understand it as a compelling force. The tailored suit makes me feel powerful, but I also feel powerful in an effortless fluid gown.

I blur the lines between fashion and art, because, in my practices, they both require the same amount of passion and serve the same purpose.”

BR: You’ve designed dresses for many celebs—Naturi Naughton, Janet Jackson, Danai Gurira. What is the design process for a celebrity? Is it a collaborative effort? 

I’ve designed for many celebrities, and each occasion calls for a different protocol. Most of the time, it’s me and my huge suitcase full of clothes, running around New York City to stylists’ suites and hotels. It’s interesting because I’ll have a dress hanging up in my studio with hardly any purpose and then, the next thing you know, it’s being flaunted on the red carpet somewhere.

Actress Danai Gurira wearing Mind of Kye on the Toronto press tour for Black Panther

BR: What’s next for Mind of Kye?

On the horizon, Mind Of Kye will be showing at the “Fashion and Race: Deconstructing Ideas, Reconstructing Identities” exhibition at the Aronson Gallery in New York. I will also be releasing a dress from my Nude Spring/Summer 2019 Collection. Finally, I will be graduating from Parsons The New School in May 2019 with a degree in fashion design!

 Her creative motivation, modern takes on fashion, and entrepreneurial attitude make Kyemah McEntyre a modern icon. Whether she’s wearing our designs or dressing a celebrity in Mind of Kye, she knows clothing is made iconic by the wearer. Shop her look and more Modern Icons.