Grace Wales Bonner, 25, the London-based menswear designer, has been announced as LVMH Prize 2016 winner (along Vejas Kruszewski, who won the second prize), gaining the a major back-up for her eponymous brand. But in fact that’s just one of the reasons I’m writing about her today. The latter is her latest, break-through outing during London Fashion Week, which is pure poetry. When creating her label, Bonner’s main aim was to break the stereotype of black male fashion as aggressive, popularly seen in posture of hip-hop sweatpants and rapper’s gold chains. Wales Bonner’s work focuses on black male sexuality, unconventional masculine identity, and mainly afro-American cultural experience.
With a background of growing up in South East London and having a Jamaican dad, Grace looks forward to show the masses a new diversity in fashion, but from a totally different perspective – it’s much calmer, gentler, not as bold as in Stella Jean‘s way. This season, she was inspired particularly by Ethiopia’s emperor from the 30s, Haile Selassie, who was famous for blurring the African rituals with his own, military coronations and “style”. Tailoring, the season’s ultimate highlight, was embellished with crystals, all in traditional crotchet and meticulous embroidery. Her decorated, slightly dandy-ish men are accompanied by female models, who wear similarly androgynous pieces – gender fluidity is nothing new to us in London. But according to Wales Bonner’s vision, male beauty becomes something much more unexpected, yet highly signature. Her debut runway show was a bomb – and with LVMH’s funds, Grace will surely keep doing her thing.