Homage to Creole Journeymen at Wales Bonner Fall / Winter 2018

Wales Bonner FW18 Collection Film directed by Jordan Hemingway

Wales Bonner FW18 Collection Film directed by Jordan Hemingway

LONDON, United Kingdom - There was a sense of passage at the Simon Lee Gallery tucked in London's Mayfair neighborhood, the setting for Wales Bonner's Fall / Winter 2018 Menswear show. Early nautical uniforms considered the functionality needed to navigate long hours on the vast seas while still maintaining a smart appearance on board. Creative Director Grace Wales Bonner's homage infused traditional elements of gingham check print, oversized anchor buttons, and a starched trouser crease, but with her subject matter Creole sailers and her island of choice Jamaica, her collection captured an insouciance that did not simply riff on the nautical theme.

The collection has a minimalist tone as Bonner's collections typically do, but they are not light pieces nor are they meant to be. Bonner does meticulous research to ground her collections in historical references - often centered in the black male identity. It is an arduous task, one not regularly tackled on the mood boards within luxury ateliers, but Bonner's legacy will be one that dug deep to present as many angles on what it means to be a black male.

The colors of the open sea immediately evoke reference to Barry Jenkins' Moonlight and even her most recent collection Blue Duets (which we covered here). It is a color of transition, movement, discovery, great intimidation, and notwithstanding a space of comfort. Entitled Des Hommes et Des Dieux FW18, which directly translates to Of Men and Gods, Bonner asks the question, are these men relying on worldly intuition, divine guidance, or a mix of both?

It is no doubt her most polished collection brimming with impeccable tailoring. The details have risen to the top, whether in a precious ribbon tied in a delicate bow around the neck or in a pair of cargo pants that come across more elegant than trendy. Anyone who knows Jacob Lawrence knows his storied paintings depicting transient black people from rural settings to big cities in the midst of the 20th century. Bonner leverages his works on migration into the collection, adding colors of red, yellow, and brown as vivid as in one of his paintings. The set was designed by another black artist, Eric N. Mack, who transformed the gallery space with fabrics stitched together resembling blowing sails in the wind. In all, Bonner's design vision is clear: to continue her own expedition in search of truth, bringing along all the relevant minds she can muster.

Photos Courtesy of Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv.