It is not often that fashion events in Rwanda succeed on their debut, but Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which opened in Kigali over the weekend, broke that jinx with fashion designers leaving a mark on the first edition in Kigali.
The Mercedes-sponsored two-day fashion event was like no other, having attracted some of the arguably best fashion designers on the continent, and beyond, including prominent South African fashion guru George Malelu, who graced the event in style.
Malelu has built a style legacy in South Africa and beyond, alongside his fashion partner Quiteria Kekana over the past ten years, following huge deals they made with renowned celebrities, like American Pop singer Beyoncé Knowles.
Different collections were displayed to fashion enthusiasts at the inauguration of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Kigali over the weekend. / Emmanuel Kwizera
The event kicked off last Friday, at Kigali Convention Centre, as models gathered outside the complex for the street-style photo session at the red carpet and, before Mercedes Benz cars, 2019 version, which were on display.
A total of 14 designers from Burundi, Belgium, USA, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Canada, Uganda, Kenya, England and host nation Rwanda were invited to grace the inaugural fashion show in Kigali.
In a colourful catwalk session by well-trained models, each designer was given enough time to showcase their best collections at the well-attended night of fashion.
Over 50 models, with the majority being locals, were selected to showcase designers’ collections during the show.
The entire modelling team was youth, with a small number of kids, who made the show more entertaining thanks to their modelling skills.
Canadian designer Lord Gilles opened the show as he showcased shorts, pants and dresses, all printed in Kitenge couture before Rwandan designer Patrick Muhire brought an all-black ‘Inkanda’ collection to the runway.
One of the designers that caught keen attention from the audience was 16-year old Burundian designer Mary Angel who made the night of fashion a remarkable one given the cheers and a standing ovation she received whenever her designs were on display. She showcased wedding and party dresses.
Another designer who also shone on the night was Christabel Kente from Uganda, whose feminine designs were well appreciated, with some revelers booking with her.
Saturday was a highly anticipated evening of fashion as people were anxious to see South African designer George Malelu, who has worked with American superstar Beyonce for the past five years.
His collections hugely impressed the entire audience with many cheering on the models who displayed his outfits. The South African designer will definitely leave Kigali with memories as his work got many talking.
Models on the runway at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week on June 1, 2019. / Emmanuel Kwizera
Rwanda’s very own Cynthia Rupari also showcased her collections alongside the South African fashion giant. Her works under her label Rupari Designs were also on display at the event before Ghanaian designer Quophi Akotuah closed the session in style.
Danny Ndayishimiye, the brain behind the fashion show, said the event was successful beyond his expectations, attracting many people as well as participating designers.
“We are so excited that the event has been a success. It was quite challenging for our team to manage such a big fashion event in two days but, in the end, we made it. I hope our local designers have learned a lot from their fellows from abroad and vice-versa,” Ndayishimiye said after the event.
Ndayishimiye said they will work to improve future editions, with a mission to make it one of the most colorful fashion events in Africa.
With the experience they have got organizing fashion events, both in Rwanda and abroad, Ndayishimiye is confident Rwanda in on the right track to become one of the most exciting fashion destinations.
“Our team has been in the fashion industry for quite long. Designers too are always versatile and innovative with new ideas and creations. Our dream is to put our country on the fashion map,” he said.
Kigali becomes the second city to host Mercedes Benz Fashion Week after Accra, Ghana. The two are the only African countries hosting the coveted fashion event.
Other cities that host the Mercedes-sponsored event include Istanbul (Turkey), Brisbane (Australia), Mexico, Malaysia and Tbilisi (Georgia) among others.