Social media ignited with fury as users vented their outrage at Mowalola Ogunlesi, the brand designer behind Mowalola, for unveiling a new mini-skirt featuring the Saudi Arabian flag at London Fashion Week.
During the brand’s Spring 2024 collection showcase, Ogunlesi entertained the audience with mini-skirts sporting designs of flags from around the world, including Japan, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.
Following the show, Ogunlesi’s Instagram page saw a surge of Saudi Arabian flag emojis in the comments, with many demanding an apology, outlining that the flag contains the Muslim declaration of faith which is pinnacle to the Islamic faith. The designer first took to Twitter, now known as X, to respond by defending the skirt with now-deleted tweets, retorting, “Cry me a river,” and adding, “A mini skirt as an act of war in 2023 is so dystopian.”
However, Ogunlesi later had a change of heart and issued a formal apology, acknowledging that she had learned more about the flag and understood her mistake.
Mowalola ss24 features a mini skirt with the Saudi flag on it. For those who don’t know, the Arabic calligraphy that is on the Saudi flag happens to be a Muslim profession of faith (shahada) as well as two Quranic verses. I can’t help but wonder if the design team knew this info pic.twitter.com/VzSicoNPTd
— ➳❥ (@VANITYxVAULT) September 15, 2023
To all the fashion community,
What Mowalola did in her latest show is a straight disrespectful act towards the Saudi flag, we ask you to fight culture appropriation and blasphemy, and call her out for the ignorance. She should immediately take down the look and apologize.
— Mohammad Yousif (@mohvmsm) September 16, 2023
I’m sorry, but there’s no way Mowalola didn’t know about the Saudi flag. This is not the stone age or the 1950’s, like google is literally free.
— 𝐒𝐀𝐅.🝮 (@italybutoncrack) September 16, 2023
Out of all the flags, this woman chose to plaster the Saudi flag which contains the shahada on a mini skirt and this is her response when she’s held accountable. Disgusting 🤢 https://t.co/rNAOOCbf0S pic.twitter.com/9hverhS6cS
— Fay (@thatFay_) September 16, 2023
“One of my key inspirations for SS24 was to use the national flags of different countries,” she said in a statement. “After the show, I found that one of these flags – Saudi Arabia – features sacred words, and its use has caused great offence. Now that I’ve been educated on this topic, I sincerely apologise for this,” Ogunlesi wrote.
“I’ll ensure this design is removed from the collection. I deeply regret any hurt or offence my oversight 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, remarking, “This was your initial reaction, so this apology feels quite performative and insincere. It seems you’re only sorry because of the backlash you rightly received.”
— Kea (@jacquemusx) September 17, 2023
There’s a reason why Saudi doesn’t brandish its flag around the country. It contains the Shahadah. Saudi has a whole set of laws just for the flag. It must be printed on both sides and folded, cleaned and destroyed all in a specific way.
To put it on a skirt is disrespectful. https://t.co/LKSXI9L1dY
— arya (@aryafah) September 16, 2023
It’s not abt the skirt
The saudi flag contains Shahada, so this is not only disrespectful to us saudis but also to the entire muslim world, this is just sad and pathetic tbh https://t.co/A4T7HZFTpE
— りり (@lalenakittenns) September 16, 2023
Another user emphasised that the concern isn’t about the skirt but rather about the inclusion of the Saudi flag, which features the shahada (declaration of faith). This is viewed as not only disrespectful to Saudis but also to the broader global Muslim community.
The Saudi flag bears the sacred text of the Muslim faith, which translates to: “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God.” This flag is regarded as a religious symbol because of its inscription, and featuring it on a skirt is seen as an act of blasphemy.
it takes a 5 minute google search to know this info. The Saudi flag is never lowered to half-mast as a sign of mourning because lowering it would be considered blasphemous. The phrase on the flag is held to the highest regard by 1.8B people (roughly 24% of the world’s population) https://t.co/H73ESGhixX
— لينه (@thetinypalmtree) September 17, 2023
i am in no way shape or form religious, but this is extremely disrespectful. knowing that the saudi flag says the word Allah on it and they’re using it as a provocative mini-skirt shows how shameless the fashion industry has become in regards to religions of all kind. https://t.co/ClUmPJLYdr
— tia (@tiaJal2teya) September 16, 2023
Originally from Nigeria, designer Mowalola Ogunlesi is now based in London. Renowned as both a designer and a singer, Ogunlesi is famous for her innovative use of diverse textures and materials in her creations, crafting unconventional styles influenced by youth culture.