Walking into a church for a fashion show will always fill you with a sense of peace. Perhaps that was the reason for Grace Wales Bonner’s decision to show in London’s intimate Swiss Church.
Hierarchy had gone out the window for the NEWGEN designer. No matter how important you were, you were going to be standing. Important editors and well-known faces in the world of fashion stood alongside so-called ‘influencers’, leaving us to ponder whether Wales Bonner’s message was one of equality.
Just like the sparse location, the show notes revealed very little too – or maybe a lot if you looked hard enough. They included poems, homoerotic photography and excerpts from literature she admired; a response to her ongoing exploration of black male identity.
Onto the collection. It was decidedly elegant (a strange word to use for menswear but apt nonetheless) with a relaxed feel that continued her interest in blending African and European cultures.
Futuristic Matrix-style shirting came out as did military green suits and a high-waisted workwear look reminiscent of a boy’s first day at school.
Sportswear also made an appearance with smarter tailored versions of side-striped tracksuits taking their turn in the rectangular room.
Leather looks and a stark white suit were the highlights along with a hard-to-see blue print that appeared to depict a black male.
There was zero embellishment compared to previous seasons. Instead, Wales Bonner had progressed into the realm of footwear, collaborating with Manolo Blahnik on black python boots accented with bright blue and orange.
Simplicity was the word of the day. And sensuality (not sexuality), according to the designer who received whoops and cheers at the end of the spiritual show.
Wales Bonner always leaves her audience with a sense of emotion. Whether that was a feeling of calmness or a sense that the models (who criss-crossed the room as if performing some kind of interpretive dance) were getting a little too close for comfort, each and every guest walked out with something on their mind.
After all, that is the point.
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