Migration plays such a big role in the world today that I found it very easy to call my collection “Migration is Beautiful #destroyallborders.” My collection mirrors the fact that migration is not a problem but a process. I wanted to share the untold side of immigrant stories.
The platform that was given to me gave me the opportunity to move away from the negative narrative that frequently go with immigrants and immigration, to one that told their stories from their own perspective. Immigrants are people who for any number of reasons, may become displaced in their countries of origin and find themselves searching for better pastures in foreign lands. They often get misinterpreted as criminals, or as people that take resources away from the people in their own countries. There might be individuals who will fall in this category, but there are more who make an honest living for themselves and therefore contribute to the economy of the new country they find themselves in. These are the people that leave their country as respected professionals and finding themselves etching a stable, honest living whichever way they can. The positive narrative that we should encourage here is that we are all human beings trying to survive and thrive – and these are the stories that should be told.
I got my inspiration for my collection from my own life experiences. I was born in Rwanda but was brought up in different parts of Africa as a Refugee. Everything I went through was always based on the Moto of “us versus them”. This never made sense to me because we have so much in common. We are all human beings that strive the same goals in life for ourselves and our loved ones, which is: safety, success (every person have their own interpretation of success) and to know that we are healthy, contributing members of the society, where ever we might find ourselves.
To use the words of Maya Angelou, “the crux of the message is that we are more alike than unalike, and therefore cannot be divided as humans because of borders.” It is also relevant socially because the sooner we realise that our differences should not be our stumbling blocks, but rather our points of celebration. As soon as we can embrace our commonalities, our whole social fabric will be mended because it relies heavily on unity as the entire global society. I believe that colours are energies and carry messages and I use colours to tell my stories. In this collection, I used multi colours and prints inspired by different cultures to show the harmony that can exist amongst people.
Starting with the collection, I had to come up with colours, prints, designs, cuts and details, and in order for me to do that I had to transport myself back to where everything started. I had to relive my journey to be able to share my feelings with the world, what and how it is to be a foreigner or a refugee. I had to showcase those experiences through this collection. This brought major challenges in the designing process. I had to relive my life story, and that opened a whole emotional journey. Giving that the collection was print-on-print, it was a challenge to ensure that the prints as well as colour combinations worked well together, to convey the story of my life. It was financially challenging to ensure that the message I wanted to convey came through given the limited resources I had to my disposal. Keeping in mind that everything from fabric designing to printing, as well as working on my own, added to the challenges.
It would be a dream come true if my collection could be received and appreciated by the global community #thebraveones and that I can open a conversation through this to show the bravery of immigrants, and make sure that their stories are properly told. I don’t have any particular favourites but I do appreciate artist who stay true to themselves in how they express their artistry and crafts. Cape Town has been a home that hasn’t felt like home, although I have spent half my life there, feeling that I am still not being accepted. I share this feeling with many other foreign nationals. This was the most important motivation that urged me to tell my story through my collection. This is my way to highlight the importance of acceptance.
Being unique and not shying away from my uniqueness might shock people. We must accept that every person is unique in his/her own way. I’ve found that many would rather follow the crowd, against their own believes, in order to fit in and be accepted. To stay connected to myself and who I am, I need to express myself and be properly represented and that is what my collections is all about.
PHOTOGRAPHER & FILM DIRECTOR: DILLON BUIRSKI @WE_ARE
FASHION & ART DIRECTOR: CHRISNA DE BRUYN, WWW.CHRISNADEBRUYN.COM
TEXT BY ALI GOLD
MUA: RICHARD PAINT @HERO
MUA ASSISTANT: ROBYN-LEE CROCKER
DOP: PATRICK QUINN SPILSBURY
EDITOR: LUKA SCOTT @WE_ARE
POST PRODUCER: CALVIN SHUSHU @WE_ARE
SOUNDTRACK: “REFUGEE’S WALK” BY MR.BLASE
BTS PHOTOGRAPHER: ANNIKA BOTHA
PRODUCTION: ANJA MARAIS @WE_ARE
MODELS: MICHAEL @ICEGENETICS