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Nigerian designer Mowalola Ogunlesi stuns with ‘African Barbie’ at 60

To honour Barbie’s 60th anniversary, and celebrate its diverse range of dolls, Vogue invited Nigerian and London-based fashion designer, Mowalola Ogunlesi to dress the iconic doll in her signature style.

And what she produced is a stunningly confident ‘African Barbie’, that she calls her ‘superhero’.

Mowalola is among the six young designers picked by Vogue. Their designs are in the September issue of the lifestyle magazine that hit the newsstands 1 August.

The other five designers are Matty Bovan, Richard Malone, Art School founded by Eden Loweth & Tom Barratt, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy and Supriya Lele.

Mowalola explains the thinking behind her Barbie design: “Mine is a world where everyone is free in terms of what they wear, in terms of how they think,” she explains.

“And my women aren’t threatened by anyone – they are taking back their power.” That spirit – of radical enjoyment presented as modern rebellion – has a magnetic energy, and it is the same that imbues her Barbie.

Her Barbie is dressed in a miniature evolution of her spring/summer 2020 collection, with backcombed hair by Virginie P Moreira and make-up created by Daniel Sallstrom (using a miniature paintbrush).

“She is a Mowalola superhero,” Ogunlesi grins.

“She’s strong and captivating and ready to have a really good time. I want to be wherever she’s going.”

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