Image Credit: Wales Bonner
Grace Wales Bonner’s FW21 collection was presented through ‘Black Sunlight’, the final film in a trilogy made by the brand, which focused on ‘revealing the threads between Britain and the Caribbean’. The film was shot between Port Antonio and Kingston in Jamaica as well as London’s Goodenough College. Bonner used these locations to amplify the collection, which draws on the style of the Caribbean as well as British prep.
Made in collaboration with Brooklyn based photographer Jeano Edwards, the 5-minute piece is a super-8 style film that feeds off of the rich colours of Kingston Jamaica and the nostalgic designs of Bonner’s clothes. Edwards was born and raised in Jamaica and his ability to draw out the island’s natural beauty through a short piece that focuses primarily on clothing is a celebration of his natural talent. The ambient sounds of musician Larraji can be heard while Edwards reads poetry from acclaimed Saint-Lucian poet and playwright Derek Walcott.
The collection further amplified the brand’s focus on Caribbean culture and communications through its tailored clothing, knitwear and accessories. It draws on both Britain and Jamaica, in particular, the Windrush generation’s influence on 1970’s London, with wide fitting trousers, track tops and checkered tailoring.
Bonner’s skills are put on full display, with her signature hand crochet in the form of beanies, scarves and sweater vests in Rastafarian colours. The 29-year old designer continued to impress with formalwear, collaborating with Savile Row tailor Anderson & Sheppard to deliver sharp suiting in an array of check prints and colours.
The film also gave quick snippets of what appeared to be a new collection for the Wales Bonner X Adidas collaboration. Her first collaboration with the sports brand in late 2020 was a commercial and artistic triumph and this next one is sure to be as successful.
As she has done before, Wales Bonner released the FW21 womenswear lookbook simultaneously to the menswear lookbook. Tailoring, again, played a big part in this collection, as Bonner combined sharp peak lapelled blazers with more relaxed flared trousers, straight denim and knee-high two-button skirts. The outerwear displayed was equally as impressive with the brand presenting a number of grail-worthy pieces including a belted leather jacket with fur collar, and a checkered double-breasted trench coat. Bonner’s wealth of experience in menswear is clearly reflected in the designs of her womenswear. This line has garnered a great number of fans in the two years since its debut.
In an interview with WWD, Grace Wales Bonner discussed the idea of intellect and education in relation to the British African-Caribbean people. She said the collection allowed her to think about “people who come to the U.K. to study at universities like Oxford, or people who create their own intellectual communities. I was looking at writers, poets and their wardrobes — focusing on the Black Caribbean intellectual community.”
Wales Bonner’s FW21 collection sees the designer use her own background and upbringing to reflect on fashion. By combining the beautiful scenery of Jamaica with the academic architecture of England, she shows us something truly unique, and deeply personal. Grace Wales Bonner, along with Jeano Edwards, let us join along for a ride into their psyche, and for that, as well as the new Adidas collaboration, we should be grateful.