Kyemah McEntyre's Prom Dress Broke the Internet. Here's What's Next for Her.

This summer 18-year-old Kyemah McEntyre broke the internet with her incredible prom dress. The artist designed her own prom dress and debuted the gorgeous gown on instagram with the message, "when European ideals and standards of beauty mean absolutely nothing."

The amazing bright red afro-cetric gown was Kyemah's first design and since the beautiful gown broke the internet, Kyemah has designed a gown for actress Naturi Naughton and enrolled in Parson's School of Design. Kyemah who is trained as a painter also identifies as a self-identity activist and hopes to inspire girls to be themselves.

We talked with Kyemah about her epic prom dress and what's next for her already incredible career in fashion and the arts.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

FH: How did your hometown and high school react to your prom dress?

KM: They were extremely excited for me. A lot of my peers told me that I was always destined for greatness. It's amazing to hear these things from people since this is only the beginning of my journey.

FH: Who are your fashion and style icons?

KM: Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Solange Knowles, and Zendaya Coleman. The majority of my influences come from different decades.

FH: When did you begin realizing the pressures put on black women to conform to European standards of beauty?

KM: To be completely honest, I’ve always been aware of America's past as far as its treatment towards African-Americans, however it wasn’t until 4th Grade, when I questioned America's treatment towards African-Americans in my generation. I had so many questions about why Black women were portrayed as modern day Jezebels and completely disrespected by the same men who are supposed to support and protect us. Sure it sounds crazy, but at a young age I was aware and because of my frustration and confusion towards these issues, I dug a little deeper. By the time I was a freshman in High School, I came to the conclusion that images of African-American women are not only demoted, but they are often compared to European standards, which leads almost automatically to their classification of being inferior.

FH: When did you decide to not adhere to European beauty standards?

KM: I decided not to conform to these European standards the day I realized that I was not going to be apart of the problem any longer. I was aware of the issue and going with the flow was not an option. Instead of settling for Society’s definition of myself, I decided to create my own.

FH: How does your work as a painter and artist inspire and influence your work as a fashion design?

KM: Awesome question! As an artist, I appreciate the power of the line quality, shape and color. Once you submerge yourself in line quality, shape and color you’ll understand how much power these things have in creating a particular feeling or mood. For me, art depicts a mood, just as fashion does. The two go hand-in-hand.

FH: Do you plan on studying fine arts or fashion design when you enter college?

KM: I plan on studying fashion design, I am currently enrolled as a Fine Arts Major, but at Parsons everyone is doing the same thing for their freshman year. The Arts is a huge field, I’m so ready to indulge in it.

FH: What was it like to design a dress for Naturi Naughton?

KM: My girl, Naturi Naughton is from my hometown, East Orange, New Jersey, and she has the best heart ever. When she called me and said she wanted me to design a dress for her I went ballistic. Words cannot explain the amount of gratitude I had. I was also still in High School so no one knew what was going on, it was super exciting. Naturi understood the message I was trying to give out and she’s been one of my biggest supporters. I am so grateful to have such a genuine person on my team.

FH: Have other celebrities reached out to since you designed her dress?

KM: India Arie and Niecy Nash have reached out to me as well about designing for them. I’m looking forward to it!

FH: Can you talk about the incorporation of African print in your designs and what this means to you?

KM: This Angelina or Dashiki Print is something that may help bridge African Americans and Africa together. This material is apart of my African roots. Often, I feel that we are put into a box and a definition to live by. This dress was me stepping out of that box, it was a very popular print in the 60’s and 70’s and now it has resurfaced.

FH: Do you plan to continue to incorporate African prints into your designs?

KM: Yes, of course. The prints have bold beautiful colors, great line qualities, and a wonderful connotation.
FH: What did you learn about the design process from your first and very successful attempt at fashion designing?

KM: I learned that your sketches are extremely important. The seamstress will literally sew what you designed, and its critical to give as much detail as possible.

FH: What is the best thing that has come out of #KyeBreakTheInternet?

KM: The best thing that has come out of #KyeBreakTheInternet is the fact that I’m inspiring thousands of individuals to really take pride in who they are and where they come from. #KyeBreakInternet has also helped to jumpstart my career.

FH: What would a Kyemah McEntyre clothing line look like?

KM: Lots of exaggerated lines and bold prints!

FH: What are your future goals as a designer, artist, and advocate for young Black women?

KM: Wonderful question. My goal in general is to be a positive example. I want to remind young women and men that they are the author of their own story. To rise above the low expectations, stay positive, and embrace each other so that we become less detached and more empowered.

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