To present a brilliant collection, no major celebrities are needed in the front row, and there’s no need to pay thousands of euros for the show venue. Ask Grace Wales Bonner, who has just released a look-book with her spring-summer 2019 collection for men (and women). The main point behind the season was spirituality and the seek for inner peace, something the designer has been interested in for a while. Wales Bonner found Ram Dass, one of the first people who brought ideas of yoga and meditation to a Western audience, as the key for that relaxed, yet oozing with mystique line-up. Inspirational texts from the spiritual teacher’s book appear printed on loosely fit t-shirts, cotton shirts and over-sized yoga pants. Some read such profound quotes as: “The stillness. The calmness. The fulfillment. When you make love and experience the ecstasy of unity.” But the collection as well has a less laid-back, more celebratory side. Some of the pieces were hand-embellished with shiny sequins and were a nod to craftsmanship originating from India. Beautiful.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
In my previous post on J.W. Anderson’s medieval-cool collection for men, I’ve mentioned Grace Wales Bonner as another example of a designer, who makes men’s London Fashion Week far, far more exciting. It isn’t a secret that London is Europe’s most celebrated melting pot of cultures, customs, dialects – no wonder why creatives from the whole world come here, to start their businesses. Wales Bonner‘s autumn-winter 2017 colllection is a continuation of her nearly poetic take on the topic of ‘spiritualism’.
“It was about the return of these spiritual characters who have existed in the Wales Bonner language before, it was about making them the heroes and looking at the street in an elevated way – and looking at it at different time periods. It was about bringing this sense of richness and depth to street language,” is the way she explained her latest outing of diverse boys (and girls).
Since the very beginnings of her own label, the Central Saint Martins graduate finds inspiration in her childhood memories – being a mixed-race girl brought up in south London was an experience, which left a significant mark on Bonner’s aesthetical point of view. The clothes presented by Grace clearly showed her interest in intriguing, African culture. Inspired with the unexplored street culture of Dakar, Wales Bonner sent out a line of leather patchwork pants, crinkled shirts with slouchy tailoring and velvet ties – as if the looks emerged out of Patrick Cariou’s photographs from his trip to Senegal.
Tops covered in authentic Masai beading; stunning leather jackets trimmed with Dalmatian-intarsia mink – those are just some of the striking pieces coming straight from Wales Bonner runway. For the collection, the designer invited two, supremely-talented creatives, who are often associated with British fashion – first, Manolo Blahnik, who reinterpreted African sandals and boots. Second, Stephen Jones, who produced a limited number of Rasta caps with white mink stripes (Grace picked London’s Kingston neighborhood as a reference) and Pashtun caps. Bravo.
Photography Chloé Le Drezen