Menswear designer and recent Central Saint Martins graduate Grace Wales Bonner will be the subject of the V&A’s next Fashion in Motion. On 10 April four free presentations will show highlights of Wales Bonner’s collections to date, which take inspiration from black visual culture and mix couture techniques with African craft.
Fashion in Motion: Grace Wales Bonner, will allow visitors to view the designer’s striking ensembles close up in an innovative installation which reflects her sources of inspiration and the Museum setting.
Born in south-east London to an English mother and Jamaican father, Wales Bonner’s designs explore cross cultural hybridity, masculinity and notions of European and African luxury fashion. She cites artists who explore black identity through their work as inspirations, including painter Kerry James Marshall and film maker Melvin Van Peebles. Her SS15 graduate collection Afrique explored Coco Chanel via Lagos and won the L’Oreal Professionnel Designer of the Year Award.
The AW15 collection Ebonics was included within Fashion East’s London Collections: Men programme, known for highlighting London’s future design talent. Inspired by exoticism and 19th-century depictions of black men, the collection featured crushed velvet embellished with cowrie shells and Swarovski crystals, high waisted flares, jewelled skull caps and intricate neckpieces.
Grace Wales Bonner said: ‘The V&A feels like the perfect space to present the hybridity in cultural representation, which I aim to explore through my work. I am really excited about opening up the conversation to a wider audience through Fashion in Motion and honoured to be part of the programme’.
Oriole Cullen, Fashion in Motion curator, said: ‘Grace Wales Bonner is an exciting new talent in menswear design and we’re delighted to be able to present her pieces to V&A audiences. Her designs are not only beautifully crafted but also conceived from important concepts and themes.’
Grace Wales Bonner, AW15 Ebonics Lookbook, Photos courtesy Rachel Chandler