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Fashion: Rwandan Changemaker

For fashion designer Cedric Mizero, fashion is a form of art that can convey social and cultural issues.

Known in his native Rwanda as cultural changemaker, Cedric Mizero defines himself as a “storyteller, visual artist and a fashion designer” who was inspired by the plethora of possibilities in the world of fashion.

“Fashion has enabled me to express myself in different ways. I use fashion to narrate daily life stories, and to be the voice of the local community.”

Roots 

Born in 1993 in Gishoma, a small village in Rwanda, Cedric has achieved a great deal in a short time. Last year was a big one for the young designer.

He took part in a mentorship programme during the New York Fashion Week in September, and worked as costume designer for the upcoming local movies Petit Pays, Notre-Dame du Nil, and Neptune Frost.

He was also nominated for East Africa Designer of the Year at the Kenya Fashion Awards in Nairobi in 2017. Amongst his recent achievements was participating in the International Fashion Showcase in London, where he was awarded for curation.

Fashion designer Cedric Mizero says his objective was to be the voice of people from the village

Fashion designer Cedric Mizero says his objective was to be the voice of people from the village

Inspiration 

Cedric cites women – “especially my mama” – and his roots as his biggest inspiration. His collections and individual works are all about his passion for volume and shape… and crucially, a clear narrative.

“I grew up in a small village where my objective was to be the voice of the people. I feel a profound connection with nature, culture and people. My inspiration stems from the emotional and sensory experiences within my surroundings, and the beauty around the small moments of every day.”

His project Fashion for All (which started in 2016), for example, is a concept deeply rooted in rural Rwanda. Through this project, he attempts to raise awareness of social issues and to be a voice for people through artistic expression.

Another project, Beauty in the Heart (2018), is a tribute to women that focuses on inner beauty, reflecting what beauty means in the real sense. It invites the viewer to recognise and celebrate rural women.

For this project, he chose to work with women farming in rural villages, imbuing his work with grass-roots realism that highlights the significance of the role rural women play in society, and the daily difficulties they overcome.

Cedric Mizero defines himself as a “storyteller, visual artist and a fashion designer

Cedric Mizero defines himself as a “storyteller, visual artist and a fashion designer

Challenges 

“At times, it has been challenging to reach my audience locally, as well as finding funding to keep working on different projects.”

Being criticised for work that you are so passionate about is never great either, but Cedric has learned to turn the proverbial lemons into lemonade.

“It makes me feel that with my work I can reach out to both my intended audience and a wider circle of people.”

Cedric Mizero designs

The Future 

“I am creating a theatre piece, A New Life in the Village, which will be performed in Gishoma. It will include fashion and an art installation. At the heart of this piece is the need to communicate various stories and issues from daily life in the village. Apart from that, I am planning exhibitions of my previous work in different parts of the world.

It is not easy getting ahead in the intensely competitive world of fashion, be it in Europe, the USA, or Africa. “The fashion scene in Africa is growing fast, and I see a pool of talent and creativity.” Cedric’s approach of using fashion for political and social change is what sets him apart.

His ability to merge the local and the international into a universal and profoundly human message is what is ensuring that his name is one we will be hearing more in future.

Words by Rabi’ah. M

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