Grace Wales Bonner is a phenomenon, not only for her meticulous designs and cross-cultural expertise, but for the sheer depth and integrity she weaves into each collection. It’s a heady mix of intellectualism and artistic spirit, seasoned with a healthy dose of cool. Yet her clothes never feel overly studied, resonating instead with a quiet, confident power.
Her Fall/Winter 2024 show, aptly titled “Dream Study,” embodies this very essence. It’s an inspired collision of college Americana and impeccable Savile Row tailoring, fueled by a deep dive into Howard University’s archives and its vibrant literary heritage. “It’s about intellectual exploration,” Wales Bonner explains, “through the lens of these incredible voices like Zora Neale Hurston and the electrifying hip-hop energy that pulses through the university’s history.”
Her focus lands squarely on the yearbooks of the 1990s, where hip-hop takes center stage as a form of philosophical expression-“conscious and cosmic,” as she puts it. This rhythm-infused intellectualism sets the tone for the collection, evident in the meticulously crafted peacoats, sharp flannel suits, and WB-emblazoned varsity jackets.
A champion of diverse voices, Wales Bonner‘s has created a space for a new generation of creatives, both in the UK and beyond. Her approach is unique: a blend of fashion education, literary references (complete with detailed reading lists for each collection), and long-term collaborations with companies as diverse as adidas and Anderson & Sheppard.
It would be easy to pigeonhole her work into the current “plain and pragmatic” trend sweeping fashion. But to do so would be to miss the soul hidden within the seams. It’s in the delicate silver embroidery that adorns a tweed skirt, the rough-edged elegance, the masterful mirroring techniques, and the precise studs that adorn desert boots. Even as she soars high on intellectual wings, Wales Bonner takes pleasure in creating clothes that feel real and wearable.
“Different cultural references combining,” she muses, “in something quite essential.” That, perhaps, is the essence of a Wales Bonner garment. It’s not superfluous; it’s a thoughtful conversation woven into fabric, a dream study translated into wearable art.
©Photo: Wales Bonner