As members of mankind, we are all engaged in a particular conflict – not with one another, but rather with the technologies we have created. Tools and infrastructures originally developed to ameliorate our lives have turned on us; rather than masters of our own destinies, we have become but pawns in sinister plots written by machines with motives of their own. Dark Web – Mowalola’s defiant return to London, the city where the brand’s journey began – offers an exploration of the techno-apocalyptic tones that colour contemporary existence; the struggle between man’s desire for self-determination and the algorithmic strangleholds we find ourselves in. 

New York – the epicentre of capitalism, and the genesis point of the mechanisms that keep it chugging along – offers a thematic backdrop. Symbols associated with the Gotham-like sprawl – its sports teams, numberplates, cultural institutions, faceless corporation – translated to logo-hacked prints and embellishments across baseball caps, jersey tees and leather bags. 

The agents of these faceless corporate entities are, well, faceless – derobed of markers of individual identity. Eyes are concealed by buggish reverse-wraparound sunglasses – some featuring mock Bluetooth headsets. Second-skin column dresses in nightshade hues – constructed with hoods, groin cut-outs and bound arms – convey a sense of fetishistic servitude. 

A clique of hackers – underground vigilantes fighting to undermine corporation-imposed law and order – sport looks that embody a spirit of dissidence. Battered leather bombers are scrawled with biro graffiti, and floor-length leather skirts and wide-set trousers feature airbrushed trompe l’oeil graphics, marking the return of one of Mowalola’s signature techniques from the brand’s archive. Elsewhere, a band of survivalists – exiled from the city’s harsh technotopia – sport bolero-and-booty-short twinsets and skirts in both micro and maxi proportions in slick ponyskin, along with hardy Timberland boots featuring a bootlegged New York Yankees logo. 

Makeup – conceptualised in collaboration with Isamaya Ffrench – develops on the collection’s central ponderings, with light sources seemingly embedded into models’ skin. Blurring the boundaries between man and machine, it gestures towards a world in which the two have inextricably merged – a world, there’s good cause to believe, may not be far off.

Styling – lotta volkova, Casting – 11casting, Music – Joey labeija

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