FestivalAFRICANA brings Rwanda fashion, art, culture to Pittsburgh

Rwanda and Pittsburgh have something in common: The East African country is known as the “land of hills.”

The two areas will share a connection this weekend for “FestivalAFRICANA: Rwanda,” an event showcasing fashion, beauty and cultural creatives.

There is an in-person component on Friday as well as virtual offerings Friday through Sunday.

The festival is produced by Pittsburgh-based FashionAFRICANA, an organization based on a global celebration of fashion, culture and social justice.

“I am always so motivated by the creative process involved in planning an event like this,” said Demeatria Boccella, of Squirrel Hill, who founded FashionAFRICANA. “My background is arts and culture and I really want to highlight not just fashion and design but culture and what inspires these creatives to do what they do.”

This event was to be entirely virtual. Organizers added an in-person event on Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Grable Visitor Center at The Frick Pittsburgh in Point Breeze. There will be an online celebration from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. From 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, there will be an online documentary film showcasing Rwanda through the eyes of fashion designers, artists, arts producers and a Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist.

Programming will be rebroadcast online from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The virtual events can be viewed on the FestivalAFRICANA website.

Boccella said the Frick is a perfect spot because of its “gardens and gorgeous campus.”

Those who attended Friday’s party got a “sneak peek” at the weekend’s events, which includes a look book of fashion designs.

Guests can register here.

Boccella said she started FashionAFRICANA to “advance the cultural equity of the African diaspora through the lens of quality programming that illuminates artistic and cultural history.”

It has grown from a regional event to one with an international reach though FestivalAFRICANA.

The event series premiered in fall 2020 with an online spotlight of Ghana. It’s a multi-series educational platform that explores Black beauty, culture and history through fashion and art.

For this festival, Boccella collaborated with MoonLook from France and Illume Creative Studio out of Rwanda.

MoonLook is a company that showcases brands and creatives from Africa.

Illume Creative Studio is a communications agency. Creative director and curator Anne Mazimhaka and producer Joan Mazimhaka co-founded Illume Creative Studio.

Boccella is co-producing the event with Nelly Wandji, a Paris-based Cameroonian gallerist and branding and retail specialist.

Courtesy of FestivalAFRICANA

FestivalAFRICANA: Rwanda features fashions, art and other creatives in an in-person and virtual event June 25-27.


Boccella said the combination of virtual and in-person events create a way to reach people all over the world.

“Rwanda has amazing fashion, home décor, jewelry, even beauty products,” said Boccella. “Each area we highlight at FestivalAFRICANA brings its own unique aesthetic.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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