An exploration of black culture and identity through opulence and excess – if there was one name on all lips this season, it was Grace Wales Bonner.
If there was one name on all lips this LC:M, it was Grace Wales Bonner. The freshest face to join the Fashion East collective, it goes without saying she’s one to watch. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Craig Green, Ed Marler and Christopher Shannon, the Jamaican-British designer’s crystal-encrusted graduate collection caught many a fine-tuned fashion eye.
Serving her own spin on the Chanel bouclé suit last time around, her AW15 collection was an exploration of exoticism, the portrayals of black men within the 19th century. It follows on from her Central Saint Martins dissertation – Black on Black – that gained the Dean’s personal commendation. Unraveling the formalities of formalwear, Wales Bonner’s menswear designs are rooted within femininity – bejeweled visions of femininity, that is.
Titled ‘Ebonics’, Wales Bonner’s “black symphony” was executed with perfection. Each design steeped in history, her gang wore crushed velvet peppered with shells, precision-cut suiting, ornate beaded skull caps dripping with Swarovski jewels, raw ivory silk under-layers and her signature top stitched denim, now ruled with stripes. Opulent, lavish and excessive are the words that spring to mind. But this was excess with purpose. Stood before a stormy-sunset backdrop, Wales Bonner’s message was not surface-deep. Exploring black culture, preconceived notions are dismissed and individual identity reigns supreme.
As if her mind-blowing collection wasn’t enough, her showcase at Fashion East also presented guests with a limited edition publication Everythings for Real, created in collaboration with Ditto Press. Built up of collages by Wales Bonner herself, the silver faced zine sees art sit alongside abstracted prose from radical black poets.
The year may have only just started, but this is going to be Grace Wales Bonner’s year.
Photography: Amy Beasley
Words: Brooke McCord.