Cedric Mizero: Rwandas multi-disciplinary artist

Cedric Mizero is one of the most exhilarating names taking Rwanda’s creative scene forward. This young multi-disciplinary artist works across conceptual fashion, film, photography, installation and sculpture to tell the stories of his home. It was only natural then, that Asantii approached Mizero to create something truly special together for our debut campaign that stems from the source of our shared creation.

Like all good things, it started with a conversation. “When I met Maryse [Mbonyumutwa, Asantii founder], she told me about how she was building a brand with African soul and made in Rwanda so I was excited to be part of it by creatively directing Asantii’s first photo shoot and film,” Mizero explains of the visual series he shot with photographer Chris Schwagga. “It was a beautiful experience. We had five days of shooting in the mountains and for me, it was about showing how we as people hold the light within us as the sun comes up.”

In addition, Mizero has made some fully beaded mannequins in partnerships with local artisans for Asantii’s concept store. “Maryse’s ambition is to create art spaces so my idea was to showcase the craftsmanship that can be delivered here in Rwanda, and create art pieces that clothes can be presented upon.”

This project is only a small taste of what this fast-rising talent is capable of. Mizero’s experimental and uplifting practice is expansive and yet remains centred on celebrating the underserved rural people of his country. Deeply local, rooted in nature, and yet globally resonant, there is a warmth and generosity to his work that is both heartfelt and calling for change.
Mizero was born in Gishoma in the Western Province, the last of 12 children. “Growing up in a big family, my mother was my biggest inspiration, and remains my role model,” he shares. “It was a small village, and daily life there is part of what I am thinking of now in my work. It was a time when women were doing everything, they had the power and were the ones working hard for the family.”

He was naturally drawn to art and fashion and after moving to the capital Kigali in 2012, found himself in an environment where he could begin to explore these fields. “People told me I could be a model or fashion designer based on how I was personally expressing myself but I was just looking for a way to communicate things that are really meaningful to me. There were no art schools so I just learnt from other people and started out by making some clothes for fashion shows. It was just the excitement of the moment – working, trying, learning, collaborating. It’s always been like that and to this day, it’s the same.”

As he continued to exchange with artisans and creatives, his long-term project, Fashion For All, took shape. Its central premise is that fashion should not just be for those of a certain age, size, status or income, and instead be an inclusive platform that elevates everyone. His 2017 installation and exhibition Strong Women and 2018 collection Beauty In the Heart pictured rural women finding joy by wearing and posing in his fantastical pieces. “I knew that the women of my village were the most resilient creatives on the planet. So, based on many conversations I had with them, I wanted to celebrate their strength, both physical and emotional.”

Words by Helen Jennings