For the first time, established and emerging fashion talent from the Commonwealth member countries came together to showcase design talent and potential at Buckingham Palace under the commonwealth Fashion Exchange on February 19.
Among the selected design talent was Rwanda's own Pierra Ntayombya of Haute Baso alongside major names such as Karen Walker from New Zealand, Bibi Russell from Bangladesh and Burberry and Stella McCartney representing the United Kingdom.
The participating designers and artisans collectively represented all 52 commonwealth member countries in a new initiative ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this April.
The 'looks' created through the Fashion Exchange will be showcased at a special reception at Buckingham Palace during London Fashion Week in February.
Ntayomba showcased her Haute Baso, a piece from upcycled mosquito net, paper beads, and reclaimed glass beads woven by the Ugandan Ihato crafts organisation.
At the event, she spoke about the predominance of young female entrepreneurs in her country noting that female businesswomen are respected.
"We have more female politicians in government than in Canada, where I went to school. I would say it's a great time for young women in Rwanda-and that's why I returned and, as a whole country, we prioritise sustainability and the environment. It's normal," she said.
The Queen's State Rooms were lined with more than 30 sustainably produced, handcrafted ball gowns, representing the cultures, identities, and creative skills of 52 countries, from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Britain to islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean.
The initiative was created by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of eco-philanthropy Eco-Age.
It is an inspirational landmark to make positive impacts on the lives of people, women in particular, across the world.
It was an uplifting night with insights exchanged on all sides.
"This further affirms that Made in Rwanda has the innovation and the quality to showcase on an international stage.
"As we phase out second hand clothing, there are many local design brands like ours, House of Tayo, Inzuki, Uzi Collections, Moshions and etcetera that prove time and again that we are able to provide fashionable options to both local and international consumers. What's even more exciting is that designers recognise the potential and are pooling resources, sharing opportunities and collaborating," Linda Ndungutse, Mukangoga of Haute Baso told The New Times.