Social media went into a frenzy as users expressed outrage at Mowalola Ogunlesi, the brand designer behind Mowalola, for unveiling a new miniskirt featuring the Saudi Arabian flag during London Fashion Week.
At the brand’s Spring 2024 collection showcase, Ogunlesi entertained the audience with miniskirts sporting designs of flags from around the world, including Japan, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.
After the show, Ogunlesi’s Instagram page saw a flurry of Saudi Arabian flag emojis in the comments, with many demanding an apology, outlining that the flag contains the Islamic statement of faith that is the pinnacle of the Islamic faith. The designer first took to Twitter, now known as dystopian. .”
However, Ogunlesi later changed her mind and issued a formal apology, acknowledging that she had learned more about the flag and understood her mistake.
Mowalola ss24 has a mini skirt with the Saudi flag on it. For those who don’t know, the Arabic calligraphy on the Saudi flag turns out to be an Islamic statement of faith (shahada), as well as two Quranic verses. I wonder if the design team knew this information pic.twitter.com/VzSicoNPTd
— ➳❥ (@VANITYxVAULT) September 15, 2023
To the entire fashion community,
What Mowalola did in her last show is an outright disrespectful act towards the Saudi flag. We ask you to fight cultural appropriation and blasphemy, and call her out for her ignorance. She should immediately remove the look and apologize.
-Mohammad Yousif (@mohvmsm) September 16, 2023
I’m sorry, but Mowalola absolutely did not know about the Saudi flag. This isn’t the Stone Age or the 1950s, as Google is literally free.
— 𝐒𝐀𝐅.🝮 (@italybutoncrack) September 16, 2023
Of all the flags, this woman has chosen to put the Saudi flag, which contains the shahada, on a mini skirt and this is her response when she is called to account. Disgusting 🤢 https://t.co/rNAOOCbf0S pic.twitter.com/9hverhS6cS
— Fay (@thatFay_) September 16, 2023
“One of my main inspirations for SS24 was the use of the national flags of different countries,” she said in a statement. “After the show, I discovered that one of these flags – Saudi Arabia – contains holy words, and its use has caused great offence. Having been educated on this subject, I sincerely apologize for the same,” Ogunlesi wrote.
“I will ensure that this design is removed from the collection. I deeply regret any hurt or offense my inattention may have caused. Thank you for holding me accountable, and I appreciate your understanding as I learn from this experience.”
However, one user pointed out that the designer’s initial response was rude, commenting: “This was your first response, so this apology feels quite performative and insincere. It seems like your only regret is because of the response you rightly received.”
This was your first response, so this feels incredibly performative and disingenuous. You’re just sorry you got the reaction you deserved. https://t.co/jSadHZ9ZpO pic.twitter.com/g5fdlDM2JP
— Kea (@jacquemusx) September 17, 2023
There’s a reason why Saudi Arabia doesn’t fly its flag throughout the country. It contains the Shahada. Saudi Arabia has a whole bunch of laws just for the flag. It must be printed on both sides and folded, cleaned and destroyed in a specific way.
Putting it on a skirt is disrespectful. https://t.co/LKSXI9L1dY
– arya (@aryafah) September 16, 2023
It’s not the skirt
The Saudi flag contains Shahada so this is disrespectful not only to us Saudis but also to the entire Muslim world, this is just sad and pathetic tbh https://t.co/A4T7HZFTpE
— Riri (@lalenakittenns) September 16, 2023
Another user emphasized that the concerns are not about the skirt, but rather the addition of the Saudi flag, which features the rank (statement of faith). This is seen as disrespectful not only to the Saudis, but also to the broader global Muslim community.
The Saudi flag features the sacred text of the Islamic faith, which translates to: “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God.” This flag is considered a religious symbol because of its inscription, and wearing it on a skirt is considered an act of blasphemy.
it takes 5 minutes of Google search to know this information. The Saudi flag is never lowered to half-mast as a sign of mourning, as lowering it would be considered blasphemous. The phrase on the flag is highly valued by 1.8 billion people (about 24% of the world’s population) https://t.co/H73ESGhixX
— Lena (@thetinypalmtree) September 17, 2023
I’m not religious in any way, but this is extremely disrespectful. knowing that the Saudi flag has the word Allah on it and they use it as a provocative miniskirt shows how shameless the fashion industry has become when it comes to all kinds of religions. https://t.co/ClUmPJLYdr
– tia (@tiaJal2teya) September 16, 2023
The designer Mowalola Ogunlesi is originally from Nigeria and is now based in London. Known as a designer and singer, Ogunlesi is known for her innovative use of diverse textures and materials in her creations, creating unconventional styles influenced by youth culture.
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