RCFS 2019: Where traditional and modern fashion met

Models showcase collections by local fashion designers at the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show. Photos by Emmanuel Kwizera.

Over the weekend, there were quite a number of activities on the social scene, but the two main events were the Kwita Izina concert, and the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show (RCFS) 2019.

The 7th edition of the cultural fashion show had been highly anticipated for it had promised to be bigger and better. The annual show is still daring to link up local and international fashion designers in bid to open up new opportunities.

As promised, indeed the three day fashion show lived up to expectations, bringing together fashion enthusiasts with the climax show on Saturday at KBC proving that when traditional is fused with modernity, the outcome can be amazing.

Kigali Business Centre was the place to be for fashion lovers and the show didn’t not disappoint, as designers from the East African region exhibited their work. Emmanuel Kwizera

The show aims to provide an inclusive and supportive platform dedicated to emerging and established designers and models, with a touch of the Rwandan and African culture.

Models during the 7th edition of the annual cultural fashion series showcasing Rwanda's cultural fashion diversity. Emmanuel Kwizera

As acknowledged by one of the models, Étienne Dusengimana, the show was an opportunity for upcoming local designers such Keza Boutique and Sandra design, naming but a few of the participants, to showcase their talents alongside some already established names like Shema Fashioand Makeke.

The model said the fashion show was an opportunity to try and pin their names on the map of fashion industry.

“This year’s edition was different. It featured a lot of local designers as opposed to the previous editions”, Dusengimana noted. “It is thus an opportunity for the local designers to share the same carpet with their more exposed peers,” he added.

Cultural aspect

From the distinct, wild-animal-ish afro cultural sense of style, “inshabure”-Rwandan antique clothing style, to “kitenge” African print, cultural diversity was embraced throughout the show.

As mentioned by Celestin Ntawirema, the organised of the show, the purpose is to fuse traditional fashion with modern fashion, to create original African wear.

“This event not only promotes Rwandan culture but also embraces other African culture as portrayed by some of the designers like Makeke,” Ntawirema said.

With untamed choreographies, Makeke Jocktan, a Tanzanian fashion designer, showcased African culture in a savage play-like manner.

Miss Heritage Rwanda 2019, Ricca Michaella Kabahenda, who also graced the fashion show, said that through events like RCFS, Rwandans are able to learn more about their culture and its connection to fashion, urging the youth to be part of such activities.

“Such an event has some educative aspects on our culture, but it also teaches us about other cultures from across Africa and how they view fashion,” she added.

Though the attendance in terms of numbers wasn’t very impressive, the expectations in terms of what was showcased were met. Admittedly, the organisers knew the fashion show coinciding with the Kwita Izina concert was going to affect attendance.

“We cannot ignore that a lot of big events, parallel to ours, are happening in Kigali,” said the RCFS organiser.

Natty Dread, Rwanda’s reggae virtuoso, who attended, advised the organisers to add more efforts on getting the word to Rwandans.

“I think they should add more advertisement, more promotion because this show has a great potential,” he said.

Nonetheless one of the exhibitors who spoke on condition of anonymity claimed that entrance fee could have also been among the reasons why the attendance was modest. He suggested that next time organisers need to make it easy for the public to attend.

“Charging a high entrance fee when you want people to come and check your products, doesn’t make sense. I think next time they should lower the entrance fees for the show to be accessible to many people, who can later order the products,” the exhibitor said.

Other participants included Fathia Creations from Ghana, MUNDI Fashion design from Rwanda, Nganizi Panza-Central Africa, Touch of Rwanda, zebra Chocolates-Rwanda and Cerse Ngaruye among others.



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