Grace Wales Bonner Just Won The 2019 British Vogue Designer Fashion Fund – This Is Why She Deserves It
If there was an award for London’s fashion darling, it would go to Grace Wales Bonner. And in a way, the British Fashion Council/ Vogue Designer Fashion Fund is exactly that – a laureate awarding the best of emerging talent in womenswear with a fine check of £200k. Her fellow finalists were Rejina Pyo, Charles Jeffrey, David Koma, Natalia Alaverdian of A.W.A.K.E Mode, Neous by Vanissa Antonious, Rosh Mahtan of Alighieri, and while all of them were great contenders, but it was Wales Bonner who took it home. And while I’m all about being politically correct and a diplomat – I will be the first to admit I was cheering for her. It doesn’t happen often that a designer charms the whole world with their work, but that’s definitley what happened with Wales Bonner who, in less than five years, achieved what many way more experienced designer wished they have in their whole career. Beware of the excessive fangirling and consider this my love letter to the designer – here are 10 things I love about Grace Wales Bonner.
1. The first time she ever showed at London Fashion Week was actually as part of men’s Fashion East’s Men’s Presentations back in the season of AW15, fresh off the Central Saint Martins Campus. From that very show titled Ebonics, her momentum was fully set and continues to this day – a captivating vision of historical masculinity and the opulence of a “black symphony.”
2. Her approach is that of a scholar. Each of the Wales Bonner shows are more visual studies in specific aspects of black history than just pieces of clothing put together into a collection. From Malick Sidibé to Ishmael Reed and the young intellectuals at Howard University – it’s always about the celebration of black excellence, in its most elevated form.
3. In her academic ways, Grace Wales Bonner is not just a fashion designer but also an artist. Her AW19 collection was actually the culmination of her month-long residency at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, only the start to her art career.
4. With an L’Oréal Professional Talent Award for her graduate collection, Emerging Menswear Designer (British) Fashion Award from 2015, a LVMH Prize in 2016 and now the Vogue Fashion Fund, she is basically the Meryl Streep of Fashion.
5. She’s currently collaborating Solange on a music evening during Frieze in New York City which is taking place tomorrow. DREAM. DUO.
6. No one can deny her expertise in tailoring. Beyond the incredible stories and messaging in her work, the clothes she makes are cut to perfection, making one of her jackets one of the most covetable pieces that should be in every collector’s archive.
7. Even the big fashion houses are fans. Grace Wales Bonner was part of the collaborative group working on Dior’s Cruise 2020 show, as part of which she reinterpreted the cult New Look.
8. Her popularity doesn’t stop on the admiration. Wales Bonner is stocked all over the world – from Matches Fashion to Dover Street Market.
9. Despite starting off as a menswear designer, she had quickly established her clothes as unisex, without explicitly doing so. Such is the power of a finely tailored jacket.
10. This is only beginning. One more award down means way more Wales Bonner for the rest of the world. Congrats!