Fun and fabulous is what best sums up the fourth annual Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, the biggest fashion event in the continent that took place from October 24-28 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The event, which attracted over 30 African designers, aimed to showcase their latest Spring/Summer collection. Organised by African Fashion International/AFI, it featured an eclectic mix of styles, ranging from cutting-edge to understated elegance.
It concluded with a display of avant-garde creations by12 budding and established designers drawn from a number of countries around the continent including Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
The event opened with three emerging designers under the AFI Fastrack programme - Kyra-Moon Halfpenny, Kim Gush and Wetive Nkosi.
"We had Rwanda for the first time showcased with a brand called Mille Collines Kigali-Barcelona. The event provided a platform for African designers to showcase their designs. Buyers were also presented," said Peggy Mutabaruka, Managing Director of Kigali-based Galaxy Events Ltd.
Galaxy Events and Thousand Hills Expeditions were among the sponsors of Mille Collines Kigali-Barcelona to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa.
Three years ago, two Spanish designers Ines Cuatrecasas Barcelo and Marc Oliver launched a clothing label in Rwanda. They also own stores in Mombasa, Kenya and Angola.
"Mille Collines Kigali-Barcelona got a good response during the fashion show. People appreciated the designs and most of their stock was sold out. This emphasised the point that Rwanda needs to focus on high end trailing so as to be more competitive and to make more money for the local products," Mutabaruka noted.
"I love fashion and I want Rwanda to participate internationally in fashion. I attended the show as a sponsor and promoter," she added.
Rwanda's designs were described as sophisticated, modern safari-chic, elegant, quality and timeless trends.
"The style is not the typical African style but it's a mix of European and African touch-hence making it marketable," Mutabaruka explained.
Mille Collines showcased casual and evening long-gowns, beautiful short cocktail dresses, pants and jackets. Their jewelries and handbags also received positive reviews.
"We hope Rwanda will be better represented next year as a way of promoting the tourism industry because there were a lot of queries about Rwanda. Many people knew about the positive aspects of Rwanda and most of them are curious to come to the country," she added.
Some of the designs in the Mille Collines' fashion range are created from locally-sourced raw materials like sisal, leather and quality imported fabrics together with local kitenge.