BAHM: 2.10.17 Grace Wales Bonner
Grace Wales Bonner is a young, London based, British-Jamaican menswear designer. She graduated from the prestigious Central Saint Martins in 2014, with her thesis collection Afrique garnering much attention from the fashion world. The following year, she was awards ‘Emerging Menswear Designer’ at the British Fashion Awards and in 2016 received the LVMH Prize for Young Designers. She has presented at Serpentine Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum and has given lectures at Parsons in NY. She has also published two zines titled Everythings For Real I & II to accompany her collections and which act as a visual account of her many literary, scholarly, historical visual influences. Her collections are an eclectic hybrid of European, African and East Asian aesthetics that meditate on themes of black masculinity, Afrofuturism, cosmopolitanism and African diaspora.
Bonner’s debut collection for Spring/Summer ’15, Afrique, was inspired by the aesthetics of contemporary African photography and Blaxploitation films of the 1970’s, a historical moment that the artist explored in her dissertation, Black On Black. The accompanying editorial for the collection was inspired by photographer Carl Van Vechten and the studio portraits of Samuel Fosso in 1970’s Lagos, Nigeria. Her Autumn/Winter ’15 collection, Ebonics, featured embroidered cowrie shells, crushed velvet and pinstripe denim, high-waist flared trousers and skullcaps fashioned from Swarovski crystals. S/S ’15, Malik, was inspired by the story of Malik Anbar, an Ethiopian slave transported to West India who eventually founded his own empire. The collection presents aspects of 19th century orientalism, North East African and Indian visual culture and was presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in Fashion In Motion: Grace Wales Bonner (April 2015). The presentation was meant to evoke a living painting with an ethereal painted backdrop and staging representative of a Northern African landscape, making for a very unconventional fashion show experience. The A/W ’16 collection show opened with classically trained, Nigerian-Irish composer Tunde Jegede playing the Kora and acting as Griot. Bonner spoke of the collection as, “a meditation on black spirituality, a current that flows from the ancient past and carries us away on a journey to a future way out beyond the galaxies.” Bonner also showed pieces from her A/W ’16 collection during a performance titled Everythings For Real for Transformation Marathon at Serpentine Gallery in October 2015.
AnOther Magazine Article Interview: Ones to Watch: Grace Wales Bonner
AnOther Magazine Article: Grace Wales Bonner: Fashion's Modern Afrofuturist
Dis Magazine Article and Editorial for S/S 15: Refreshingly Cool
Victoria and Albert Museum Video: Fashion In Motion: Grace Wales Bonner