Monday May 20, 2024

Saudi flag miniskirt: Fashion designer Mowalola apologises after social media outrage

Social media denounced as disrespectful Mowalola's Saudi Arabian flag miniskirt, which features the Islamic declaration of faith and is part of Kingdom's flag

By Web Desk
September 18, 2023
Mowalola Ogunlesi and her brands models walking SS24 runway. Twitter @fashionista
Mowalola Ogunlesi and her brand's models walking SS24 runway. Twitter @fashionista

Fashion designer and singer Mowalola Ogunlesi after drawing massive online fire Monday decided to remove a Saudi Arabian flag miniskirt from the latest lineup of her titular brand — worn recently by a model at the brand's SS24 runway presentation sparking outrage.

People on social media denounced the design of the skirt, which features the Islamic declaration of faith, as it is part of Saudi Arabia's flag, as disrespectful, reported Middle East Eye.

The skirt, seemingly fashioned out of the Holy Kingdom's flag, has inscribed on it  Kalma Tayyaba in Arabic, which translates:  "There is no God but Allah [and] Muhammad is the messenger of Allah". 

Other flags were also shown on miniskirts worn by models walking down the catwalk, but many said the Saudi flag shouldn't have been displayed because of the religious calligraphy it bears.

"The whole situation around that miniskirt is not about defending that god awful country... Saudi Arabia, but a scripture that is sacred to billions of people. How hard is that to understand?" one social media user posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Many others shared the sentiment online.

"I am in no way shape or form religious, but this is extremely disrespectful. Knowing that the Saudi flag says the word Allah on it and they're using it as a provocative miniskirt shows how shameless the fashion industry has become in regards to religions of all kinds," another social media user said.

Others questioned the designer's motives as well, urging her to take the skirt out of her collection.

The designer originally made an effort to justify her decision, but the criticism persisted.

"There's a reason why Saudi doesn't brandish its flag around the country. It contains the Shahadah [Islamic profession of faith]. Saudi has a whole set of laws just for the flag. It must be printed on both sides and folded, cleaned and destroyed all in a specific way. To put it on a skirt is disrespectful," one social media user wrote in response.

Later, in a series of posts posted on X on Saturday, the designer apologised for the skirts seen on the runway and pledged to take the item out of the collection.

"One of my key inspirations for SS24 was to use the national flags of different countries. After the show, I found that one of these flags - Saudi Arabian - features sacred words, and its use has caused great offence. Now that I've been educated on this topic, I sincerely apologise," she wrote.

She continued: "I'll ensure this design is removed from the collection. I deeply regret any hurt or offense my oversight may have caused. Thank you for holding me accountable, and I appreciate your understanding as I learn from this experience."

Nigerian-born Mowalola Ogunlesi, who resides in London, is the company's designer.

The singer-turned-designer is renowned for incorporating a broad variety of textures and materials into her creations, which are used to produce unconventional appearances influenced by young culture.

Over 300,000 people follow Ogunlesi on Instagram, where she posted pictures of the skirt on her stories.

An Eritrean-Australian Instagram model called out a fashion brand for the "disgraceful display" of religious writings on its clothing at the PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival earlier this year, and the festival later apologised.

Mona Khalifa, a model and influencer from Melbourne who attended the event, took to social media to criticise the clothing line Not A Man's Dream over a sheer dress that had the Arabic phrase "God walks with me" printed on it.

This is not the first time a company has drawn criticism for having religious material on its products.