When the inaugural Mercedes Benz Fashion Week concluded in Kigali in 2019, organisers were already thinking of making the next edition an even better fashion experience for its audience. However, the Covid-19 pandemic halted their plans to hold the continental fashion event in July last year after the government banned large gatherings and entertainment events to avoid the spread of the virus. Organisers of the fashion show have, however, revealed that the event is back in Kigali and is set to take place on July 10 live on national broadcaster’s entertainment channel, Kigali Channel two (KC2), as public gatherings remain banned. Danny Ndayishimiye, the brains behind the annual event on Kigali chapter, told The New Times that they are putting things together to ensure a successful event for the fashion community who have missed similar events since the pandemic arrived in Rwanda in March last year. “The event is back because we think it is more important for the industry than stopping it until the pandemic relaxes, said Ndayishimiye. A total of 15 designers are expected to participate in this year’s edition of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Kigali, three of whom are Rwandans, three from the United States, a Belgian, an Ecuadorian, two Ghanaians, one from South Africa, and one British designer. To make the fashion event relevant to the brand, under which it is named, organisers are preparing a red-carpet glamorous moment during which Mercedes Benz-branded vehicles will be unveiled as an occasion to show car series that will be available on the market next year. The car series unveiling ceremony will mark the official opening of the fashion event which will involve runways by established models from Rwanda and across Africa. A total of 30 models, including 25 from Rwanda, were selected to headline the runways during which they will showcase the unique collections made by local and international designers. Local designers expected to represent Rwanda at the event include model-turned-designer Sisi Ngamije, Delphine Uwamahoro, who owns a fashion line known as Delphinez House and Ghana-based Rwanda designer Fathia Uwase. At the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Kigali, we wish to see more models and designers getting a platform to show the best they can offer to the fashion world. This is an international fashion event through which our designers and models can hopefully get incredibly international exposure worldwide through its online platforms. We look forward to having more Rwandans fashion works going international,” Ndayishimiye said. This is not the first time that majority of local models are going to grace the runways since the pandemic outbreak. Ndayishimiye said that local models selected for this year’s edition meet the required international standards as they were able to attend shows outside the country, notably in Milan and Paris. “We have international standards that models must meet to be selected for our event. Local models weren’t able to headline runways in local fashion shows because they remain banned but they managed to do runways outside the country during the pandemic and that helped them keep the standards we wanted. Of course, we missed them but they were selected on merit,” he explained. The five remaining models expected in this year’s edition include two Americans, one from Israel and two from Ghana. The fashion industry is one of the sectors most hit by Covid-19 but Ndayishimiye encouraged players in fashion to wake up and come up with new innovations and creative initiatives to keep the industry up and going. For the event, he said Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Kigali could open doors for other fashion events organisers to bring the events on board in a different model as public gatherings remain at a halt.