Wales Bonner Meets Curtis Mayfield by Way of 'Brideshead Revisited'

Catherine Hayward
·2-min read
Photo credit: Wales Bonner
Photo credit: Wales Bonner

From Esquire

In an industry more commonly associated with frivolity, frippery and fads, a Grace Wales Bonner fashion show is a cultural antidote. In the six years since she launched her eponymous label, the London-based designer has developed an enviable reputation not only as a creator of highly desirable clothes, but as a young creative who births conceptual, spiritual and profoundly personal collections of characters through an obsessive study of literature, history, music, photography and film.

This multi-faceted approach has already won her the LVMH Young Designer Prize, a collaboration with Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior and her own exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery. An impressive body of work for someone who’s not yet 30. This season, the final instalment of her latest triptych of work (which started last January with ‘Lovers Rock’: a dedication to the British Jamaican community of Seventies London, followed by ‘Essence’, a celebration of early Eighties Jamaican dancehall music), is a further exploration of the connection between British and Caribbean cultures with a new film and collection called ‘Black Sunlight’.

Using Pamela Roberts' Black Oxford – a history of the many, usually underrepresented, Black scholars at the eponymous university – as a starting point, Wales Bonner draws inspiration from scholastic visual cues as well as trawling the works of St Lucian poet Derek Walcott, a Nobel prize-winning scholar and a natty dresser, to boot. Unsurprisingly, Wales Bonner’s sense of place and eye for detail are razor sharp. Tuxedo-style jackets – a collaboration with renowned London tailors Anderson and Sheppard – are paired with louche stripey pants and overlong scarves; a sportier checked blazer with old-school sneakers; oversize, shawl-collared, double breasted overcoats appear alongside Seventies-style Adidas blousons and wide, neat, pressed jeans. It’s Curtis Mayfield meets Brideshead Revisited, which shouldn’t really work, yet in the capable hands of Wales Bonner, the references meld seamlessly. This collegiate sportswear and hybrid tailoring schtick is fast becoming her signature – and seem destined for future success. Watch this space.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more delivered straight to your inbox


Need some positivity right now? Subscribe to Esquire now for a hit of style, fitness, culture and advice from the experts


You Might Also Like