Thursday 14th February

| BY Claudia Croft

Wales Bonner: Ready-To-Wear AW19

Everything Grace Wales Bonner does, thrills with artistry and there’s a deep generosity at the core of her world. For her first ever co-ed show, held in the exhibition she curated at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, the designer gave us a thrilling cultural experience. She’s a deep thinker and her collections, which explore black male identity are intensely researched. Throughout her process, the designer makes deep connections with other artists and brings them into her world. For her AW19 co-ed show, the great Nigerian poet and writer Ben Okri recited a poem he’d written for her and the American writer, musician and cultural theorist Ishmael Reed played a jazz composition and recited poetry as the models walked through the space.

The collegiate looks they wore were based on Wales Bonner’s research into the young black intellectuals at Howard University, America’s first black university. Into the mix of varsity jackets, trench coats and baseball shirts she also threw a dose of mysticism – the feathers sprouting from the hems of a tweed jacket and talismanic jewellery with adorned many looks were a reference to voodoo. The clothes themselves are terrific – beautifully detailed and finessed. That art, poetry, music, mysticism and fashion can exist on equal planes in the Wales Bonner universe is her triumph

Photographs by Jason-Lloyd Evans.