Though the journey has been an uphill struggle for Rwanda’s Fashion Industry over the past ten years, local models and fashion designers had reason to celebrate their incredible rise, thanks to Kigali Fashion Week.
Saturday, July 6, marked the 10th year anniversary for the annual fashion event at Kigali Serena Hotel ballroom. Rwandan and foreign models beautifully showcased creative collections made by both local and international designers from different countries.
The fashion gala attendees included Japanese top model and actress Sayaka Akimoto, Tokyo Africa Collection organizer Leo Sugo, as well as different diplomats representing their respective countries in Rwanda.
The fashion show was well attended.
Majority of models were new faces from a local modeling agencies, who modeled alongside international models from Uganda, Japan as well as aspiring models from different refugee camps in Rwanda.
Over the past ten years, the annual Rwanda Fashion Week has been regarded as one of the biggest platforms that contributed a lot in promoting locally made fashion designs not only on the Rwandan market and has given local fashion designers and models exposure on the international scene, after it grew from just being local to an international fashion event.
Japanese top model and actress Sayaka Akimoto speaks at the event. Courtesy photos.
Models, too, have grown their talents through Kigali Fashion Week, to becoming international
Renowned models, including Mister Africa 2017, Jean de Dieu Ntabangayimana, aka Jay Rwanda, and Moses Turahirwa, who now owns Moshions, are among a big number of models who found their potential in fashion and modeling through Kigali Fashion Week.
This time around, a number of new faces in modeling were given a chance to headline the runways at the well-decorated venue and did not disappoint after days of rehearsals.
Models showcase Japanese styles.
Rwanda’s Mundi Designs, Iby’Iwacu Summer Collections, Ihogoza Designs, DK Textiles, and Karsh Collections, among others, and international fashion designers like Gissa Fashion Design (Sweden), the 5Mith Fashion House from Burundi and By The Way Fashion Collections (Belgium) which also has a showroom in Kigali, did their best to impress the fashion show goers and none was disappointed.
For John Bunyeshuri, founder and organiser of the fashion the show, ten years have been a tough journey but quite impressive seeing that Kigali Fashion Week went from national to international, as part of his quest to realise his dream of taking to Rwanda’s fashion industry to another level.
Even international models took part in the Kigali Fashion Week.
“I celebrate the awareness, people now know what fashion is and I see parents bringing their children to the fashion shows. For me it’s a big celebration. I am not a fashion designer but a promoter who wants to give empowerment to young people who have a passion in fashion and promote them to the international scene,” he said.
“I have the passion to groom these young models and designers, help them get international connections and get people who can support them, it’s a big thing. My big plan now is to establish a fashion academy in Rwanda. I will not wait to do it in the next ten years, it may even happen in two years’ time,” he added.
Bunyeshuri, however, expressed his disappointment with some of the staff from big companies who ask ‘cuts’ from him whenever he seeks sponsorship.