Just six years after graduating from Central Saint Martins, the Nigerian-British creative director seduced Yeezy, New Balance and Dover Street Market trades with her radical 'theft' aesthetic. Now she is gearing up to relaunch her label on her biggest stage in her fashion industry.

The Nigerian-British designer, graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2017, has worked with Nike (the company that designed the World Cup jerseys for the Nigerian national football team) and New Balance. Ye (formerly Kanye West's musician and fashion king) hired her to design the Yeezy Gap collaboration, taking orders from the trend-setting retailer for her eponymous label, Mowalola.

The 27-year-old designer now aims to enter the next stage in her brand evolution and she reintroduces her disruptive brand with her first catwalk in Paris on Saturday after three years.

London's Rising Star
Her star of designers was already on the rise when she dropped out of her master's degree at Central Saint Martins. Her bachelor's show brought industry attention, and she made her London Fashion Week debut in 2019 as part of Lulu Kennedy's Fashion Oriental Talent Incubator. That same year, she also hosted an immersive gallery experience in London that evoked a unique Nigerian punk aesthetic and combined music, art and film.

Ogunlesi and others close to her brand quickly felt as though she transcended her London fashion scene. "When I first saw her work at Central Saint Martins, she looked more like a seasoned designer than her student," Kennedy said.

A big breakthrough is coming soon. In 2020, she was appointed Design Director at Yeezy Gap, providing valuable insight into how the global fashion business works for a year and a half.

"I've learned a lot from my [Yeezy Gap] experience, but after a year I want to stay focused on my brand," said the designer.

Ogunlesi has taken the stage in Paris, captivating clients and industry insiders with expressive designs that often demonstrate traditional ideas of good taste and etiquette. Brands like Dover Street Market and Ssense have opted for her neon cowhide miniskirts, skinny multicolor tank tops, and bright pink leather pants.

"I'm ready to develop my brand and want to venture out to Paris to show it here," said Ogulessi, sitting in a cafe opposite the Centre Pompidou.

Ogunlesi has built its brand around progressive, lively and androgynous aesthetics. Her colorful, embracing pieces, sometimes referred to by her as "stolen clothes," layered references to her love of music, film and art, often celebrating sexuality and challenging traditional expectations of West African identity.

The show came after a busy year for Ogunlesi as the designer struggled to keep up with her own burgeoning label, while the designer juggled her role in Yeezy Gap and worked to make progress in her other creative pursuits. can not see. In addition to her fashion work, the designer says she has curated exhibitions, recorded an EP and is currently producing a TV show she has already written.

KK Obi, stylist and creative director who founded Boy Brother Friend, a fashion and art publisher exploring African diaspora identities, said: "From her first show, she Clothing challenges conventional wisdom. "If you go to Nigeria, you see the impact her work has had on empowering young people, whether it's the way they dress or the way they engage in political struggles. "

"As a woman, how fierce and strong she is, absolutely shines through her clothes...As a woman, or as a person wearing Mowalola, you feel warm and free," Kennedy said.

Now calling her friend "Mowa," Ogunlesi believes she and her brand are mature enough to reach new heights. Having previously created the series on her own or with the help of one or two part-timers, she now has 14 full-time staff working on the series. , and her collaboration with New Balance, which will debut on her Paris show.

A more structured approach
Ogunlesi is quick to admit that he had little business knowledge during the early years of running his label, especially on issues such as wholesale contracts and corporate finances, and was "bad at asking for help" from the organization.

"I don't have much business experience, so mentally it was really hard for me to know how much money to invest to start a brand," he added. Applications for financial aid to the British Fashion Council were rejected during the first few months of the pandemic.

He said he is still wary of what he considers an overly prescriptive approach to helping young brands in the process. They often attend each season's shows to keep the spotlight and maintain their place on the Fashion Week schedule.

But after leaving Yeezy Gap in December, he worked with Alex Sossah, co-founder of creative agency Metallic Inc, to come up with a more personalized approach to marketing. Sosah helped with the ink deal with Brand Accelerator 247 and an Italian fashion group that will manage the brand's wholesale relationships, distribution and logistics starting this season.

Previous Mowalola collections were commissioned by upscale retailers including Dover Street Market, Selfridges and SSENSE. This season, we plan to expand our presence to a broader range of retailers and boutiques around the world as our production capacity increases and wholesale support becomes available in 247 locations.
The model also wore outfits such as Drake, Solange Knowles, Kim Kardashian, Megan Thee Stallion and Naomi Campbell. They took awareness of their daring aesthetic to a new level in a trompe l'oeil dress that caused controversy online. . . . .