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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Fashion Designer Apologizes Following Saudi Flag Miniskirt Controversy

After including a miniskirt featuring the Saudi Arabian flag print in her Spring 2024 collection for London Fashion Week, Nigerian fashion designer Mowalola Ogunlesi, residing in London, offered an apology in response to the online criticism it generated.

Many other flags, including those of China, the UK, and Japan, were featured as miniskirts in the Mowalola collection. The flag of Saudi Arabia bears the Islamic oath, the Shahada, which states, ‘There is no deity but Allah; Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.’ Major Arab and Muslim fashion accounts urged FarFetch, a fashion retailer, to stop selling Mowalola goods, threatening a boycott if they did not comply. The Middle East represents one of FarFetch’s most crucial markets.

On X, previously known as Twitter, Ogunlesi initially ridiculed the controversy. As per a screenshot shared on X by the Couture is Beyond account, she remarked, stating, “In 2023, labeling a miniskirt as an act of war seems incredibly dystopian.” Another individual simply responded with, “Don’t expect sympathy.” After removing these comments, the designer expressed remorse for any “hurt or offense” her creations might have caused. She proceeded to acknowledge, Following the fashion show, Ogunlesi expressed regret upon realizing that one of the flags, particularly the Saudi Arabian one, includes religious text, resulting in substantial offense. She went on to convey her sincere apologies, acknowledging a deeper understanding of the matter. Additionally, she expressed gratitude for being held accountable and expressed appreciation for the patience of those helping her learn from this incident.

The Saudi flag is typically not incorporated into clothing designs as a sign of reverence for the sacred inscription it bears. In 2022, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce implemented a ban on its commercial usage, as reported by Saudi media. Additionally, it is a globally recognized practice that the Saudi flag is never lowered to half-mast during periods of national mourning.

On platform X, various users expressed criticism of the design through posts and comments, deeming it ‘disrespectful’ and ‘offensive.’ This particular miniskirt isn’t the first instance of Mowalola using religious symbols in her designs, as her Spring 2023 collection also prominently featured the crucifix.

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