Grace Wales Bonner is the upcoming Jamaican/English designer from London, graduated from Central Saint Martins BA in 2014, who got presented on Fashion East for Men’s collection spring/summer 2016 show.
Last season, Bonner focused on the Harlem Renaissance. This year, during a trip to Dakar, Grace got inspired from a story of the Ethiopian leader Malik Amber and his journey from a slave to ruler in Western India. Her design is still rooted in the history of cultural codes, behaviors and race and explores black male representation via art history and political movements. The collection is recognizable through its use of embroidery, jewelry and a mixture of African craft and couture techniques.
“My identity lies between the two different cultures,” she explains. “With the collection it was about exploring the space between European ideals of opulence, elegance, and then something very real, very directly African.”
With influences in decades of previous menswear archetypes, as a ‘50s leather jacket, a ‘80s double-breasted blazer and a ‘90s denim jacket, Grace achieves to create a collection of beautiful, gender-defying clothes that you might actually wear.
“I feel like I’ve seen enough images of black men looking really aggressive, very hypersexualised or ‘street’. That’s not how I think about men at all. That’s not the men in my life,” says Wales Bonner.
Photography by Cholé Le Drezen.