place and identity
Grace Wales Bonner is tailoring the future of fashion from her own personal heritage.
By Hans Ulrich Obrist
Photographs by Jalan and Jibril Durimel
Grace Wales Bonner is steadily earning a place in contemporary fashion design’s canon – and the reason is simple: she designs extremely wearable clothes, to which she adds a rich creative exploration of her own Caribbean and British identity, spanning age, gender and ethnicity. The natural convergence of these aspects creates a dynamic that has made her work feel so relevant to today. Since founding her label Wales Bonner in 2014, initially to produce only menswear, she has consistently expressed her personal vision of black male identity, history and culture through an academic, sensitive and poetic lens. And while her rise on the global fashion scene has been rapid – she graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2014, won ‘Emerging Menswear Designer’ at the British Fashion Awards in 2015, and received the LVMH Young Designer Prize in 2016 – she has never allowed that to compromise the technical quality of her precise tailoring.
Wales Bonner is now entering a more considered, nuanced and confident phase of her career, her language now naturally moving beyond the conventional fashion settings of a collection, a show or a campaign. For System, she set out on another visual exploration and collaboration: with twin brothers and photographers Jalan and Jibril Durimel, she travelled to Guadeloupe, shooting a story that represents an emblematic expression of her continuous questioning of identity, place, history, ethnicity and magic.
Indulge in the Wales Bonner vision through the full interview and photographs in System No. 13. Click to buy.