By Ange Theonastine Ashimwe
‘Fashion should never be limited to a certain age, size, social or economic status.’ – Cedric Mizero
From the high – end to the high street, East African fashion is ever-evolving, and fashion designers like Cedric Mizero are ever-growing.
The way Mizero uses objects from everyday life – including rush mats, charcoal, and pill cases – to draw attention to the issues of marginalized communities and cultures of Rwanda that we often avoid; reinforces that his work has the power to move the local and the global into a message that is universal and deeply human.
His work does not focus on the negatives often associated with rural hustle life in a developing country. Instead, he celebrates the wealth of the village by communicating complex narratives through his curation like Strong Woman (2017), Beauty in the Heart (2018), Dreaming My Memory (2019) and A New Life in the Village (2019) among others.
A New Life in the Village (2019) | 180 Strand, London WC2R 1EA, UK
A New Life in the Village is a continuation of Cedric’s work with women in rural areas to attract public attention to the issues surrounding their reality. It strikes a deeper reflection on the debate around medication in rural African society.
This curation exhibition which kicked off late October went on till late December, and it collapses the local and the global into questioning what has this medicine revolution meant for people living in rural areas. These questions refer to awareness, accessibility, distribution, and usage.
Cedric Mizero’s “A New Life in The Village” portrait at 180 Strand, London WC2R 1EA, UK. Credit: Cedric Mizero
Dreaming My Memory | The International Fashion Showcase (IFS) 2018 – 2019, London
Dreaming My Memory brings forth and binds together Mizero’s memories of growing up in a small village of Gishoma. In his dreams, these memories blur with his artistic knowledge to retell past events into contemporary narratives.
By sharing his memories, Cedric invites everyone to live the experience of rural people and follow the imagined narrative through otherwise ordinary objects.
For this curation, Mizero was awarded a Special Mention during the International Fashion Showcase in February 2019.
Cedric Mizero’s installation at the International Fashion Showcase in Somerset House, London. Credit: Agnese Sanvito
Beauty in the Heart | Collective Rwanda Fashion Show, July 2018
A tribute to the inner beauty of women, Beauty in the Heart sets the ground to reflect on what beauty really means and invites us to acknowledge and celebrate women – regardless of their appearance, lifestyle, and origins.
Beauty is in the heart. This saying is rarely believed in a fashion industry that is often associated with different beauty standards. Mizero highlights and celebrates the important role of rural women in society and draw attention to their beauty.
For this curation, Mizero worked with farmer women from rural villages to Kigali, and they were the models of his collection at the Collective Rwanda Fashion Show in July 2018.
Photography of Cedric Mizero’s “Beauty in the Heart” collection in 2018. Credit: Serrah Galos
Fashion for All | 2016 – PRESENT
With his unique vision for fashion built on collaboration and inclusivity. He mentions that his long-term project is Fashion for All, a concept that is deeply embedded in his inspiration for rural Rwanda and strives to raise awareness of social issues and be a voice for the marginalized people in an artistic way.
As part of the Fashion for All concept, Mizero created a “Strong Woman” exhibition and art installation featuring photography, fashion, and mixed media highlighting feminine strength, energy, and responsibility.
Photograph of Cedric Mizero’s “Strong Women” collection, created in 2017. Credit: Chris Schwagga
Mizero is the costume designer behind fil Petit Pays, Notre Dame du Nil, Neptune Frost, and he also collaborated on costume designing for a short film named Never Look at the Sun by Baloji.
He cites women – “especially my mama” – and his roots as his biggest inspiration. And combining art and fashion into his work gives it a special glow.
His curation gives this vibe that it is only the beginning of a continuous exploration with countless possibilities and impacts on others working in the fashion industry.