wanda held the latest edition of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in the capital city of Kigali from May 16 through 21. The show, which had been twice-postponed due to the pandemic, finally arrived to the delight of fashion lovers across the East African nation. From the budding to established designers who earned a runway slot to the models in masterpieces, to fashion-forward attendees, the event came packed with an exciting schedule that included several exhibitions.
Day 1: Fashion Summit
The week kick-started with a fashion summit themed ‘The Business of Fashion’ at Norresken (Africa’s biggest hub for entrepreneurs) located in downtown Kigali. Members of the panel included Lord Gilles from Canada, Somali-American Nimco Adam, French makeup artist, stylist, and hair designer Nallah Sangare, and Chris Vitj, a fashion guru from Belgium all of whom interacted with local fashion designers, the media, as well as models during the discussion.
The most interesting take from the panel was Vitj’s disbelief that Rwanda did not have a single fashion design school despite the incredible efforts by local designers who actually have the talent to produce world-class collections to compete on an international stage. This first event brought together Africa’s finest designers and others to discuss the growth of Africa’s fashion industry from a business perspective.
Day 2: Fashion Meets Music
Young, fast-rising Rwanda designers were given a platform to showcase their collection to top African designers and investors worldwide. This event took place at the M-Hotel, with upcoming local fashion houses such as The Mysteries, Jarah by Linda Muhoza, Inkingi Designs, Knoni Clothing, Fashion Forward, A&M Kigali Urban, and Ntare Gitare, among others showcasing their collections on the runway.
There were also collaborations on the runway with other designers such as Nigerian art and accessory designer Aisha Sambo of fashion brand SHUSHI, who supported designers on the runway with her sunglasses.
Uganda-based designer Jonjo Fashion closed the runway show with a bold all-red collection. In total, ten young designers were given the platform to showcase their creativity. The presence of local musicians Mike Kayihura and Christopher was felt as they serenaded attendees with their unique sounds. The stars performed live music alongside the Target band as the collections graced the runway.
VIP Cocktail Reception
The VIP Cocktail Reception took place at Akagera Motors and featured more local designers and a showcase of Mercedes Benz Cars. It was evident that the fashion scene in Rwanda is steadily growing, as the country positions itself to become the next major fashion hub in Africa.
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is rated as one of the biggest fashion week events in the world, and Kigali is the second city in Africa to host the show after Accra, Ghana. Other cities that have served as hosts of the Mercedes Benz-sponsored event include Istanbul (Turkey), Brisbane (Australia), Mexico City (Mexico), Kaula Lumpur (Malaysia) among others.
Renowned designers such as Malawi’s Lilly Alphonso, Kais Divo Collection from Uganda, Ghana’s Arshia Wilson, Qaal Designs of Somalia and Thando Piliso of South Africa, among others also showcased their collections during the grand finale of the fashion week.
Check out some of the best designs spotted at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Kigali…
Eyes are on Africa in the fashion and entertainment scene, and the continent is certainly teeming with creativity, excellence, and originality ready for export to the rest of the world.
Reported by Aisha Sambo for Style Rave.
Photos courtesy of Aisha Sambo
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