This New York Fashion Week, online influencer Denzel Dion debuted a ready-to-wear presentation from his breakout fashion label, NOiD. Titled “COLLISION,” the collection spanned Dion’s personal history of experiencing fashion from an early age with Y2K staples like 7 For All Mankind, True Religion and Citizens of Humanity. “COLLISION” carries this same unapologetic attitude with a modern 2023 twist.
From Vine to Instagram to TikTok to YouTube and an exclusive Snapchat show, Dion has undergone many career transformations thus far. There’s no corner of social media he hasn’t touched and been successful on — but with NOiD, Dion moves towards something more tactile. Rich, buttery brown leather passed down the Lower East Side's St. Mary’s Catholic Church runway during NYFW, signaling a new era for the influencer.
“COLLISION” brings to life Dion’s Ghanaian influence, adding red to the black colors featured in last season’s “Introspection” collection to recall Ghanaian funeral attire. Traditionally, red and black connote danger and grief, featured throughout the collection in silhouettes resembling the Asante Dansekra. But the “COLLISION” procession passed with a Roman Catholic austerity, emphasizing Dion’s upbringing in the church and the collision of his African and American heritage.
This iteration of NOiD lays Dion’s own past to rest, speaking to the grief cycle Dion has experienced over past versions of himself and the expectations of others cast upon him. To Dion, fashion has always been a means of self-expression and an avenue for empowerment. NOiD’s exploration of identity reaches a head in “COLLISION,” shedding limitations in 32 body-conforming silhouettes that combine breathable shapes with skin-baring slits and snatched waists.
To his old self, Dion says, “Stay true to yourself, keep on going and keep on pushing by doing you.” COLLISION was a breath of fresh air in a congested fashion season, and a welcome invitation to do “out with the old” and make way for the new.
The full collection will be available Fall 2023 on noidofficial.com.
Below, check out Dion's exclusive interview with PAPER about the collection.
Talk us through the process of bringing COLLISION to life.
The process of COLLISION has really been in the making for some time now. Some of the garments on the runway were sketched four years ago, before the launch of NOiD. At times I doodle on my iPad and save for the future. Being that I’m an independent brand and just getting my foot in, there are things I draw and don’t release to save for this very moment here, to showcase on the runway. I was able to build a story with the previous sketches and allow my imagination to run wild. Sketching is one thing, but another thing that helped a lot was just going to fabric stores and spending hours there, feeling the different textures and being able to envision a garment that speaks to me.
What was it like bringing your garments onto the runway for the first time?Seeing my garments for the first time on the runway was honestly so surreal. At first when it’s just a sketch it’s just like, Oh okay, this is fab. I don’t see anything of it or think too much about it, but when it’s actually done it’s a whole new feeling. When the sample is being made it’s like, Oh my god, this is actually a garment. It just really hits different when it’s time to fit the clothes on a model. When I had a fitting at my studio, I was like, It’s actually happening, these are my clothes. The collection really came to life piece by piece like a puzzle. Being that this was my first time creating such a big collection, at first I didn’t know which way to go. I knew what I wanted to do but it was more so the color palette and making sure the collection was cohesive and telling a story.
Tell me about the theme behind COLLISION — what worlds are colliding? What colors?
The theme behind COLLISION is about merging my Ghanaian and American culture together. In this collection, we see a lot of trench coats and flare pants which is an ode to the '70s, then comes in the black and red which represents the grieving period I went through while making this collection, these are the traditional colors us Ghanaians wear to funerals. The black also represents freedom and the red represents independence.
As someone who started as an influencer, do you feel like the fashion world has welcomed you?
I feel like the fashion world still hasn’t welcomed me due to how I started online and, this being a very consequential space, it’s definitely going to take some time. Social media as a whole hasn’t welcomed me due to my first collection and the backlash it received online. Solely based on the fact that an influencer hasn’t ventured off into the fashion world as a designer yet, they’re used to quick merch. In due time everything will make sense, it’s just a lot to process for some being that it really hasn’t been done before to my knowledge.
Tell me a bit about the history of NOiD. What does the label signify for you and how did you conceive it?
NOiD is about freedom, being a non-conformist and living your life unapologetically. It’s more than just a clothing brand, it’s a lifestyle, honestly. For me, it signifies independence and stepping into your own power. We all have this sense of power, confidence and boldness within us, which is what I strive to showcase when wearing NOiD. The brand’s name was "Dion by Denzel," which was too close to "Dior."
That was in 2018. Then, launching t-shirts and stuff in 2019, I knew I wanted to do so much more with my brand and that name wasn’t going to cut it. I came up with "NOiD" by flipping my whole name backward. There was something about NOiD that spoke to me. I started looking closer and was like, Wait NOiD but it spells "NO ID" when split apart. The vision I had was about making genderless clothing and it just clicked. The reason why it’s pronounced NOiD like void and not "NO ID" is solely based on me — singular name brands, it’s just classic and chic. The brand is spelled with a lowercase "I" to showcase that NOiD is NOiD and you can come as who you are and who you confidently stand to be, to wear whatever the hell you want. There are no limitations.
Photo courtesy of BFA/ BreJohnson/ Runway photos courtesy of Hatnim Lee
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