Monday 6th January

| BY Dino Bonacic

Wales Bonner: Menswear AW20

You can easily get lost in a Wales Bonner collection, trying to decipher all the academic references and artistic inspirations the British designer had on her mind while creating the pieces. And that’s one way of looking at her collections. The other is all about indulging in the pure beauty of what’s on display. Tonight though, Grace Wales Bonner made it easier than ever to indulge into her world in both ways.

The space: Lindley Hall in Westminster, a venue that’s not foreign to a fashion show concept. But this time around, the set-up presented round tables scattered throughout the Hall, numbered in style of old-school weddings. Setting the tone of togetherness in the audience was important for Wales Bonner, as she found her inspirations in communities of South London’s Lewisham Youth Centre back in the 1970s, as captured by photographer John Goto. But in her interpretation, the style of these people was at its most refined thanks to the best quality materials like fine suede, thick mohair wools and velvets, cut without a fault. A collaboration with Adidas continued from last season, exploring the field between formality and casualness even further. Have you ever seen a pair of three-stripe trackies or a pair of Sambas look this elegant? The answer is a firm no.

At Wales Bonner, thoughts are never said but rather expressed through form and movement. Conservative codes of 1960s Savile Row became subverted by sitting along with more exuberant pieces like the colourful silk shirt printed with an image of a swan taken from a painting by British-Guyanese artist Frank Bowling. Grace Wales Bonner is not just a fashion designer – she’s an art historian, a scholar, a curator and an artist herself, as demonstrated at her last year’s solo show at the Serpentine Gallery. After the AW20 show, it’s also clear she’s a polymath who is still discovering all the ways in which she can express herself. Everyone else? We’re just here for the ride.

Photographs by Jason-Lloyd Evans.