Focus On: Mowalola

In the light of the extremely sad and disturbing events that have happened in the past few days – and not only – I would like to state that my site, my work and my outlook always stand with the black community. Racism is alive in America, and in the world, and we must be vocal about it (the way you personally choose to). I believe that educating yourself, having conversations (private and public) and spreading actual awareness is much more meaningful than just reposting a slogan on your social media feed (even though doing this little is better than nothing). I also think that in the creative industries – the one I can speak for – reflecting personal beliefs should be more than welcomed. Other than this, donate (click here and here), share links (here, here and here), support! You can even buy the dress Rihanna wore by Asai, and the entire 300 pounds it costs will be donated to three charities – just DM the designer with your order or send him an e-mail. In the domain I’m most active in – fashion – I feel like the situation should be highlighted as well, and more designers and brands should join that dialogue. On my side, I want to introduce you to the most exciting, emerging, independent black designers out there, who are often overlooked during fashion weeks or simply underrated. Their stories and visions shape and inspire today’s industry, we should all acknowledge that!

Starting with Mowalola. The Lagos-born designer Mowalola Ogunlesi arrived to London when she was a kid. At first she planned medicine as her life path, but in the end she went to Central Saint Martins. Three years ago, she presented her diploma collection dedicated to contemporary Africa. She made waves – fashion insiders and international magazines were obsessed. Mawolola’s vision was completely one-of-a-kind: through sexy, at points kinky garments she managed to convey the power of erotic tension in the times of social uncertainty. “In my country, I grew up with sexuality being very judged. So I wanted to transform people’s ideas of what sexy is. That it’s okay to show skin”, she told Vogue Runway. To embrace her origins, the designer chose psychodelic rock from Nigeria as her main reference, and her music inspirations lead to creating the new romantic menswear. Mowalola models wore sultry leather jackets, low-waisted super-slim pants and skin-baring crop tops with assymetrical cuts. All that kept in bold colours, reminding her of the Nigerian landscapes and streets. For her spring-summer 2020 collection, presented with Fashion East, Mowalola expanded her unique take on men’s fashion. Her signatures were styled with belts buckled with sacred and profane symbols: a cross, a religious icon, the Stars and Stripes, the words “sexy” and “mother fucker”. “I base it on what I’m going through – I’ve just fallen in love for the first time; I feel as if no one talks about the horrific side, the dangers of love, of losing control of your emotions and feeling like you’re crazy. It’s like how I see a horror movie!” she related. “So this is as if I’m in a black Woodstock Festival, and someone has been murdered.” See selected looks from her collections below, I can’t wait to see what she’s up to in the upcoming seasons. Make sure to follow her on Instagram and take a look at some of the pieces available from her on ssese.com!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki

Toxic Paradise. AV Robertson SS17

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It’s like paradise gone bad,” said Amie Robertson after her second runway collection, supported by Fashion East. “An ‘other’, magical land where the flowers that sprout are toxic and taking over. The silver metallic PVC also gives it a space-like element, like being on another planet.” Embroidery and embellishments are A.V. Robertson‘s signatures – that’s why it’s intriguing to see how the London-based designer evolves creatively in  those two, painstaking fields. Inspired with 50s horror films like Forbidden Planet, the collection focuses on a vision of a tropical paradise kept in a toxic, dark aura. The season’s look – a transparent, turtleneck blouse with a slit, midi-skirt – is ultra-feminine, while the embellished alien-like florals give it a sci-fi twist. A slip-dress also went through Robertson’s botanic makeover, all in fish-net mesh and fluorescent crystals.

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Colour Apogee. Matty Bovan SS17

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Matty Bovan can be described with one word: colour. Remember the graffiti-like doodles on Marc Jacobs’ spring-summer 2016 backpacks and coats? That’s Bovan’s (and his colleague, AV Robertson) work. If you type @babbym into your search bar on Instagram, prepare for an apogee of extremely layered make-up looks, glitter, paint and spontaneous sketches. Basically, Matty is on everybody’s lips in the industry for a pretty long time. So seeing his debut collection during Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East show was a perfect occasion to completely absorb, and get the point, of the designer’s cheerful, rainbow-coloured world.

With support from Love Magazine‘s Katie Grand, Matty sent a line of “really cool” models down the runway – there was Lily Sumner, Teddy Quinlivan, and even Lily McMenamy, all in Bovan’s energetically hand-printed trousers and hand-knitted, quite unclassified garments. Even Stuart Vevers, the creative director of Coach, let the art-school dreamer sugar-coat the brand’s classical leather bags for this event. In a range of fun-clothing, we can find fish-net sweaters and neon-green dresses, chaotically cut up and fringed. Matty’s inspirations for spring-summer 2017 included a line of artists and photographers, who never said “no” to colour, and a DIY kind of way of making things: Stephen Sprouse, Keith Haring and Maripol. Miranda Joyce, who collaborated with the Matty on make-up, took hints from Nina Hagen, the “Godmother of Punk”. London is about limitless creativity, right?

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