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Grace Wales Bonner Showcases at V&A

Grace Wales Bonner Showcases at V&A

By: Sophie Yapp

“Grace Wales Bonner is an exciting new talent in menswear design… Her designs are not only beautifully crafted, but also also conceived from important concepts and themes.”

Few graduates are lucky – or indeed, noticed – enough amongst the masses of aspiring designers within a year of graduating. However, former Central St Martin’s graduate, Grace Wales Bonner, is the next in line of aspiring and innovating designers to have their collections showcased at the V&A’s Fashion in Motion. Taking place on 10th April, 2015, the South-London based menswear designer is set to showcase highlights of her collections in four free presentations, including her latest AW15 collection ‘Ebonics’.

Living up to its acquired name, the Fashion in Motion series at the V&A is held by means of showing fashion provided by leading international designers in precisely the way it is meant to be shown – in motion. Grace Wales Bonner follows in the footsteps of accomplished and highly respected designers amongst the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen, of whom was the first to showcase back in 1999.

Having won the L’Oreal Professionnel Designer of the Year Award for her SS15 graduate collection ‘Afrique’ and subsequently having her AW15 collection ‘Ebonics’ featured in Fashion East London Collections: Men Programme, the budding designer continues to rise from strength to strength. Since graduating a year ago in 2014, Grace Wales Bonner can't be praised highly enough for her ascent in contribution towards fashion design. Fashion in Motion curator, Oriole Cullen, expressed his delight in presenting her pieces, stating “Grace Wales Bonner is an exciting new talent in menswear design… Her designs are not only beautifully crafted, but also conceived from important concepts and themes.”

Bonner's main source of inspiration is formed from black visual culture, some of which is derived from her own heritage, after obtaining Jamaican roots from her father whilst also incorporating British roots from her mother. A predominant source of inspiration is sought through artists including Kerry James Marshall and Melvin Van Peebles, who explore black identity in their work; something which she too encapsulates within her collections. Evidently, this is a reoccurring theme within her work and is present in her latest AW15 collection ‘Ebonics’ and prior to this, in her SS15 collection 'Afrique'.

Her latest collection for AW15, ‘Ebonics’, intertwines both African craftsmanship and couture techniques, as shown through the combining of Swarovski crystals with cowrie shells. Her work embodies cross-cultural themes of masculinity combined with African luxury fashion and is delivered so in a manner that is visually engaging whilst offering deep-rooted cultural substance. In her own words, “The V&A feels like the perfect space to present the hybridity in cultural representation, which I aim to explore through my work.” ‘Ebonics’ encompasses a profound sense of exoticism, as well as the 19th-century depiction of black men, featuring crushed velvet embellished ensembles with jewelled skull caps, high waisted flares, and ornate jewellery.

With free admission and no booking required, immerse yourselves in these culturally curated collections at the V&A on 10th April 2015. Prepare to be visually and culturally enticed.