“Be comfortable with the uncomfortable,” says Timeekah Murphy.
Murphy is the founder of Alani Taylor, a luxury streetwear brand with an eccentric style that is transforming fashion. Her gender-neutral statement pieces are innovative and an indicator of her aesthetic, mixing different patterns and colors that usually do not pair together. It is a reflection of how fashion to her means freedom. “I feel that fashion should be a free thing for everybody,” states Murphy.
Murphy’s fashion story starts in 2010 when she self-taught herself how to sew while serving in the military. She wanted to express her different and unique personality through her designs. Her self-taught skills eventually led her to participate in small fashion shows to showcase her creations and increase her exposure.
In 2016, after Murphy’s daughter, Alani Taylor Murphy, was born, the designer was inspired to create her high fashion label. Today, one of her best sellers includes drop-crotch kilt pants, a design inspired by the Asian army, and her own uniform from when she served.
“The way I look at fashion – and I didn’t grow up with fashion in my life, it rather fell in my lap-,” says Murphy as she recounts her childhood, “but fashion brings out that confidence in people. And I like to design based around that.” Murphy considers herself a “going against the grain” type of designer.
There are no rules, no boundaries, and no genders when she creates what she does. She also likes to use herself as inspiration for what she designs by asking herself what someone like her who prefers androgynous clothing would wear. Through these clothes, Murphy’s goal is to create outfits that both genders can wear. She not only wants the wearer to feel good, but she also wants to associate her clothes with bold confidence.
What truly distinguishes Murphy from other designers is her dedication to connect Alani Taylor to a specific type of experience. In 2019, she collaborated with the owner of Deviant La Vie, Brittany Duet, on a project called “The Zenith Experience” for LA Fashion Week.
Zenith refers to the time at which something is most powerful, and “experience is coming to something that will leave a mark in your mind.” Showcasing the collection at LA Fashion Week did exactly that for the audience. It was such a powerful collection that it even caught the eyes of Beyonce, who was interested in using the clothes for her next big project, Black is King.
“Black is King changed my life,” recounts Murphy. After Beyonce’s stylist, Zerina Akers, reached out to Murphy for the collection, she told the designer that Beyonce wanted to buy the white lace and rope gown. However, she refused to go into more detail about the project. Murphy admits how she had to wait a whole year to know what the project was and what her design was used for. The only detail she was given from Beyonce’s assistant was that the singer had used the dress in a “powerful scene.”
When Black is King did finally drop, Murphy describes it as a moment where she “immediately lost her voice.” She describes the image of Beyonce wearing the all-white Alani Taylor gown imprinted “forever in [her] head’” during the unforgettable scene. “She’s literally in Alani Taylor, and I could never forget that.”
Murphy’s career from then on has been anything but predictable. A couple of months later, she custom-designed rapper DaBaby’s daughter’s dress for the Grammys on the day of the awards show. The night before, DaBaby posted on his Instagram that he needed a designer to make a dress for his daughter, Princess.
Although Murphy was actually in New York planning a photoshoot in Atlanta for the next day, she reached out to the rapper, who was impressed by her designs. She changed her plans to fly out to Los Angeles instead and recalls not bringing anything with her when she boarded the plane. DaBaby had to FaceTime her while in Downtown LA to pick out the fabrics and materials that the designer needed. When Murphy landed, she arrived at DaBaby’s house at 9 AM and only had a three-hour window to complete the dress, all while using an old sewing machine and Princess as her mannequin.
The outcome was a Cinderella-style yellow gown adorned with sequins. Although children were not allowed where the Grammys were held this year, DaBaby organized his own red carpet for his daughter. The pictures taken of DaBaby and his daughter went viral, and many people praised the dress that Princess wore. However, a little-known fact about the dress is that it wasn’t even the final product.
DaBaby was impressed by her ambition and drive, and the two plan to collaborate on a streetwear collection, the release date to be announced. Currently, she is filming for an exciting reality TV show for HBO called The Hype, in which streetwear designers will compete against each other in different challenges, slightly similar to Project Runway.
After completing these projects, Murphy hopes to bring her vibrant style to different cities, starting in the USA and then globally, by opening up style houses. Through her style houses, Murphy hopes to further her vision of creating incredible experiences through her designs. She envisions people being able to walk into her building feeling one way and walk out feeling transformed. Her first stop is Atlanta, Georgia, a city she believes has potential for an even bigger fashion scene.
Ultimately, Timeekah Murphy envisions Alani Taylor becoming a globally recognized brand. She feels that her brand can resonate with the European streetwear scene. Compared to the American scene, European fashion is on a “completely different level.”
With her incredible work ethic, there is no doubt that she will achieve that with so much more. Her being comfortable with the uncomfortable approach to fashion makes her an innovator in a saturated industry. Murphy is here to redefine the standards, and it is exciting to witness where her powers will take her as she strives for more greatness.