Remember Grace Wales Bonner?
She is the British menswear designer who came into the limelight late 2014 for her stellar editorial campaign for a debut Fall 2015 collection. For the campaign, Wales Bonner travelled to the pink Lakes of Senegal to shoot an editorial featuring traditional Senegalese wrestlers in a show of hyper masculinity that juxtaposed with the soft femininity of her clothes. The collection started quite the conversation on proper ways to celebrate African culture in fashion without veering into exploitation and in part, inspired Rich Mnisi’s editorial a few months later.
While that editorial thrust her in the global fashion spotlight, Wales Bonner’s body of work has remained consistent and inspired, finding an uncanny balance between the men of colour of the past and the projections of the future.
From her home turf in London’s unrelenting capital, she has drawn the world’s attention and held it, eventually attracting the interest of Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy, a luxury multinational responsible for many of the world’s biggest brands. The LVMH was created by the brand as a way to encourage and financially support emerging brands across the world and offer them the opportunity to work on a larger platform. The LVMH prize has been generous to many designers, including Nigeria’s Orange Culture, shortlisted for the 2014 showcase.
With Wales Bonner’s win, she becomes one of the first designers to win an international competition with a brand identity and aesthetic that is unapologetically influenced and promoted by blackness. Congratulations to her.