Markell’s Closet: Door to the Creation of the World’s Most Viral Prom Dress that Inspired a National Movement

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When a talented, but bullied young teen artist met Markell Mockabee, a self-taught fashion designer and seamstress, the door was opened for the creation of the world’s most viral prom dress that has  inspired a national movement in the United States.

“If you can dream it up, I can bring it to life!,”  Markell Mockabee 

custom dress prom queen kyemah mcentyre

Courtesy of Intagram @mindofkye_

One year ago, in what seemed like a Cinderella story right out of a book of fairy tales; the internet was blazing with stories about 18 year-old Kyemah McEntyre’s prom dress. Within hours, hundreds of websites featured the prom dress that went viral after Kyemah posted an Instagram photo of herself modeling the dress with a caption that read:

“The most creative people are the ones who step out of their comfort zone and take advantage of the world around them. My ability as an artist allows me to experience the benefits that versatility fosters. Being exposed to all kinds of people and cultures is the muse for my artwork. I am an aspiring artist who is very passionate about the connection between art and the world. I believe that in order for society to gain a wider horizon, we have to be willing to acknowledge other people from differences, beliefs, morals, and values. I would like to take this moment to say that you have to understand who you are because if you leave that space open, you leave your identity in the hands of society. Don’t let anyone define you. Beautiful things happen when you take pride in yourself.”

As a talented teen artist, Kyemah McEntyre was bullied in high school and when the time came around for her to attend her high school prom she wanted to design her own dress; one that would explore her African heritage and make a statement. So, her mother introduced her to Markell Mockabee, owner of Markell’s Closet and the two of them collaborated on a dress that was worthy to be worn on the Hollywood red carpet.

The NY Times reports, Kyemah conceived and sketched the floor-length bouffant gown in homage to the dashiki. Ms. McEntyre’s dress was intended to fly in the face of convention — and conventional notions of beauty. The dress was designed as an emblem of black pride.

Prom Dress original sketches

In an exclusive interview with Chocolate Informed Online Magazine, Markell explained that she has been sewing and creating since the age of 9. Without any formal training, she perfected her craft with an eye for asymmetry and vivid colors resulting in pieces that exude an originality and uniqueness.  According to blogger Shianna Tucker of  A Thick Girl’s Closet, Markell is known to have an eye for precision and is able to capture the essence of femininity in her pieces

” She creates her pieces with laser like precision even without the use of base patterns. She has an eye for draping & contouring the female body, being able to capture the essence of femininity like that of Diane VonFurstenburg or Coco Chanel. All the while never losing who she is as a designer”

Now, with over 30 years of experience, Markell has mentored many young budding fashion designers.  So, it’s no wonder Kyemah sought her out when it was time to bring her sketched design to life.   “Inspired by her African heritage, which is reflected in the bright printed fabrics of the dress, Kyemah then had a nearby seamstress from Markell’s Closet, in Montclair sew the dress specially for her, by hand,” reports Daily Mail.

Undoubtedly, the two women teamed up to make the teenager’s dream dress a vivid reality, but more importantly the two fashion phenoms have inspired a national movement in the United States that hasn’t been seen since the 60’s when women idolized  the iconic Angela Davis and wore head wraps around their natural hair.  Danielle Canada, an editor at Bossip, a web destination covering African-American pop culture and entertainment, stated,  “We started to see it last year, but it’s really picked up this year,” she said. “Definitely, this trend has gone national.”

Today, Kyemah McEntyre has her own clothing line and can boast a client list that has included Tyra Banks and Naturi Naughton.  As for Markell Mockabee,  she continues to showcase her vibrant and original pieces on her website,  She also makes it her mission in life to uplift our younger generation by sharing her expertise and volunteering her time to pass on her skills,  so that others have an opportunity to do as Kyemah has done… live out their dreams and inspire others.

“If you can dream it up, I can bring it to life!,”  Markell Mockabee 

Markells Closet Door

Markells Closet


Markells Closet Shop

Photo Credit: Chris McCormick

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