Kigali fashion week puts Rwanda on the style map
Rwanda may not have a fashion school, but its second fashion week champions a fledgling industry with worldwide ambitions.
A show during the second annual Kigali fashion week, which features the creation Rwandan designers including Sonia Mugabo, below.
It is normally the catwalks of Lagos and Johannesburg that grab the limelight as the African fashion industry grows in stature around the world. But the Rwandan capital put in a bid for style glory at the weekend with the launch of the second annual Kigali fashion week.
Designer Sonia Mugabo, who lost grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends in the genocide nearly 20 years ago, was one of 10 local designers whose work was showcased on Friday night, with help from the organisers of New York fashion week.
Although Rwanda does not have a fashion school, Mugabo says the tragic history of her family has made her more determined to follow her desire to be a designer. “When I was doing graphic design in college, my parents asked, what is she doing?” says the 23-year-old, who studied in the US and interned at Teen Vogue. “Fashion is a luxury here. Not everyone can afford to be fashionable and our culture is very conservative so people think it’s too showy. But I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
“I think people here don’t understand art as a whole concept. They don’t know what art can do for a country.”
Mugabo and friend Candy Basomingera, 30, launched their women’s range, Afrikana Exquisiteness, in August.