Imaxtree/Mowalola; PICTURED: Fall/Winter 2023 Collection
Mowalola Ogunlesi isn’t keen on being put in a box, or at least that’s what one can deduct after deep diving into the designer’s career. The Nigerian creative first made her foray into fashion by attending (and dropping out of) Central Saint Martins. Though she’s openly discussed how she disliked her experience there, she accredits the school with landing one of her most influential internships with Grace Wales Bonner. Cutting her teeth under the tutelage of one of our time’s most revolutionary female designers inspired Ogunlesi to start her eponymous label, Mowalola, in 2017.
She debuted her first collection at London Fashion Week in 2018 with the philanthropic organization Fashion East. The non-profit is dedicated to fostering new talent and has some of the most esteemed veterans in the program, including Maximilian, Jonathan Anderson, Nensi Dojka, and Mowalola. While Ogunlesi stopped showing with Fashion East in 2020, that first collection (and the subsequent ones after that) cemented her as a rising star in the industry.
That newly attained star status was partly due to the celebrity set that quickly took to her work—fans include Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, and Drake. Additionally, Ogunlesi landed some of the buzziest collaborations quickly (with Nike and Gap). But don’t be fooled by the hype; at the end of the day, the fandom surrounding her work all goes back to her out-of-the-box approach to fashion.