The fashion industry is no stranger to housing multi-disciplined designers. It seems as though these days we’ve seen fashion designers make their way to celebrity-dom, through their brands but their coexisting creative side- hustles. All hail Rick Owens’ adjacent furniture line or Tom Ford and his directorial undertakings. Not to be mistaken for the short and sometimes questionable musician to fashion mogul pipeline. From mega girlband popstar to her eponymous label Victoria Beckham, Tyler the Creator’s Golf Le Fleur that we find ourselves getting lost in and of course Kanye ‘Ye’ West’s infamous Yeezy.
Instead, we’ve seen one designer making her mark in the opposite way, creating a music career on top of her blossoming fashion brand with its cult following. Mowalola Ogunlesi founder of the eponymous label Mowalola, finds the perfect balance between dipping their toes into every endeavour that scratches that creative itch and world building. That is – creating an all encompassing brand and world in which all aspects are inspired by and in turn inspire each other.
Mowalola sowed her seeds as a designer first. With her 2019 London Fashion Week debut hosted by the distinguished talent incubator Fashion East that has made its name by fabricating many of the designers we know today with its creative and financial mentoring (take Simone Rocha, Kim Jones, Ashley Williams just to name a few) . With her collection grabbing the attention of many, Ogunlesi soon saw her brand take her to new heights, garnering fans in Naomi Campbell, Drake and most famously Ye. What seems like only a short stretch of time from her LFW collection release, Mowalola was appointed the design director of Ye’s highly coveted Yeezy Gap collaboration.
With many other notable collaborations under her belt, such as designing uniforms for Nigeria’s World Cup team on behalf of Nike, and creating the fit line-up for Skepta’s ‘Pure Water’ video. Ogunlesi has had her snares around every inventive role possible.
Her steady rising music career is not far behind (where is the album Mowa!?). The artist only has a few tracks to her name, but despite this, Mowalola has already created a solid musical identity and sound which imitates the raw and unfiltered visuals of her brand. Her music and artistry give the impression of a hidden gem yet to be discovered (and for us to claim that we found before it becomes mainstream). The alternative artist/designers’s singles “Truck” and “Wawa” and music feature on Namasenda’s single “Banana Clip” encapsulate the Mowaverse’s EDM and alternative sound. With every move that Ogunlesi makes she mixes her own beat.
A deep-dive through the brand’s instagram (which doubles as her own personal platform) will show you the physical manifestation of this budding world. Original artwork and characters inhabit the intergalactic alternative world showcasing bright and imaginative colours but with darker and more villainous tones. Alongside this her homemade videos and shots with her friends and longtime collaborators Chi Virgo and Deto Black fill the page, letting us know that Mowalola’s brand is whatever the f*ck she wants it to be with whoever the f*ck she wants in it.
Something can be said for Mowalola’s universe building. It’s easy to say that she’s just expanding and finding differing artistic trajectories, however, the likeness and similarities between each project seem too vast to be mere coincidences. Her latest SS23 Paris Fashion Week collection titled ‘Burglar Wear’ saw sex and taboo and unconventionalism piled onto one runway. A new and discomforting yet somehow alluring voyeurism-inducing collection. Not unlike her music with its alternative beats and light but layered and ethereal vocal or sometimes the harsher rock ballad notes. Not to mention her original characters which we’re just waiting to see in a full production, Each project or new career path of hers only seems to contribute to the self-titled brand bleeding into one another and organically constructing a world that Mowalola is graciously giving us the pleasure of experiencing.
Mowalola is its own world and is waiting for us to fall into orbit
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