The Victoria and Albert museum are continuing their series, 'Fashion In Motion', a project aimed to celebrate some of the greatest designers of our time and bring them closer to the public.
The project is an on-going series of live catwalks featuring the likes of Meadham Kirchhoff, Alexander McQueen, Jenny Packham, Ralph & Russo and Kansai Yamamoto, amongst many others. Yesterday was the debut of designer Grace Wales Bonner. The catwalk was once again opened to the public, who flocked alongside the fashion crowd, who are already well aware of Bonner's talent.
Now 24 years old, Bonner was born in South-East London to an English mother and Jamaican father. She went to Central Saint Martins to study on the Fashion BA course and won the 2014 L'Oreal Professional Talent Award. With only two collections under her belt, the menswear designer is certainly making waves.
As the crowd eagerly gathered around the stage, some sitting, some standing, and everyone with their cameras poised, Bonner began her presentation: a combination of her graduate collection, Afrique, and her first season with Fashion East's London Collections: Men AW15, Ebonics.
The inspiration behind the crystal-encrusted, perfectly flared suits in crushed velvet and mohair, 60s leather jackets and the denim silhouettes, was derived from a diverse blend of art history, political movements and the black-male experience.
Throughout the presentation, Bonner's muses performed a well-choreographed routine of slow, but emotional and intense motions and movements to the sound of the live St James' church choir. Grace worked with the choir to create the unique live musical accompaniment to the show, juxtaposing the traditional sacred choral music of Giovanni Palestrina's By the Waters of Babylon, with Western re-workings of black spiritual and revolutionary music.
The arrangement of the set and placement of the models was inspired by nineteenth-century Orientalist paintings and the portraiture of photographer Samuel Fosso, which were off-set by the fresh-looking cast, the strokes of bright colours and the saturated glitter painted on their hands, neck or chest.
At the close of the show Bonner bowed to a cheering audience. Her celebration of excess and opulence couldn't have been more humble and tastefully executed in the collection. Her powerful commixture of the modern and historical black male is reflected in her immediate success within an industry, where race and colour are so often shied away from.
To find out more about 'Fashion In Motion' click here
Words: Desi Lazarova
Photography: Graham Brandon / Victoria and Albert Museum