Wales Bonner presents Essence, the Spring Summer 21 collection, launching as a digital presentation at Paris Fashion Week alongside the premiere of Thinkin Home, an original film by the Jamaican artist Jeano Edwards and the offering of a digital publication entitled Reflections on Essence.
Essence Spring Summer 21 Menswear and Womenswear Collection
The Essence collection is the second in a triptych of collections by Wales Bonner that explore the diasporic connections between Britain and the Caribbean. Where the first collection Lovers Rock, Autumn Winter 20, reflected the British Jamaican community in London in the seventies, Essence explores the early eighties origination of dancehall music in Jamaica.
Essence serves as an exercise in refinement – to the purest elements of the Wales Bonner world and wardrobe. Tailoring is ever present, evoking British morning dress, romanticized with magical, found buttons. Shirtmaking is prominent, inspired by Jermyn Street makers and manifesting the relaxed elegance of Augustus Pablo’s iconic dress. There is a dancehall vibrancy to the collection; the hybrid sports tailoring enhanced with striped satin, elevated jockey silks and patchworked corduroy in electric blue.
The Harder They Come, serves as a reference for the softer colour palette, revealed in a continued collaboration with adidas Originals introducing slimline tracksuits in pink and ivory crochet, canvas and leather plimsolls and ivory topstitched football boots. There is an effortless ease and evening sensibility to the everyday here – from the cedar brown striped tailoring wool, to the striped crepe pyjamas crafted with frayed finishings. Silhouettes are presented with a fluidity that works for both menswear and womenswear, a uniformity presented in military detailing and gold emblems. The collection also sees the development of the women’s character, expressed with the intimate sensuality of silk and crochet dresses. The sun is shining.
Reflections on Essence (2020) A digital publication by Wales Bonner
Reflections on Essence draws together a multiplicity of perspectives. Original commissions by Ekow
Eshun, Grace Wales Bonner and Mahfuz Sultan introduce the Digital Publication which features the Lovers Rock campaign photographed by Liz Johnson Artur and selections from the Essence Spring Summer 21 lookbook by Sean + Seng. The publication includes source materials that have informed Wales Bonner
for these first collections in a three-part series that explore connections between Britain and Jamaica.
From contemporary voices like Ishion Hutchinson, to legendary lyrics by Mikey Smith and seminal imagery created by Jason Evans and Simon Foxton, to excerpts of cultural commentary from Marlon James and Stuart Hall – the digital publication reveals the time-blending healing of intellectual and visual heritage at the heart of Wales Bonner.
Thinkin Home (2020) A film by Jeano Edwards
Filmed in Jamaica, Thinkin Home tracks the passage of eight young men as they move towards their destination, through lush scenery and the rich chromatics of the built environment. Against a soundscape of reggae, 80s dancehall, gospel and spoken word, we witness the men convene at a single point. Thinkin Home introduces Essence, the Spring Summer 2021 Collection and was inspired by Rockers and iconic Jamaican filmmaking.
Informed by broad research encompassing critical theory, musical composition, literature and history, WALES BONNER embraces a multiplicity of perspectives, proposing a distinct notion of luxury, via a hybrid of European and Afro-Atlantic approaches.
Grace Wales Bonner launched her eponymous label in 2014, following her graduation from Central Saint Martins. Established as a menswear brand, Wales Bonner’s soulful tailoring soon expanded to womenswear.
In 2015, she was awarded Emerging Menswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards. In 2016, following her first solo runway presentation – Ezekiel, she received the LVMH Young Designer Prize. In 2019, Wales Bonner was invited by Maria Grazia Chiuri to collaborate with Dior to re-interpret their New Look silhouette for the Resort 2020 collection; shortly afterwards, she was announced the winner of the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund.
In January 2019, Grace Wales Bonner presented her first institutional exhibition, A Time for New Dreams at London’s Serpentine Galleries. Grace is an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martins, London and the newly appointed Artistic Director of the Fashion department at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Wales Bonner’s international menswear and womenswear stockists include Selfridges, Harrods,Dover Street Market, Net-A-Porter, Ssense, Matchesfashion.com, Printemps, Boon the Shop and Bergdorf Goodman.