Wales Bonner – Lover’s Rock

Dedicated to each and every one inna di area. A homecoming. Lover’s Rock. A lively community, confident and distinctive in their dress, irreverently sampling tropes of the British wardrobe: Donkey jackets, repurposed 1960s Saville Row tailoring. A moleskin double-breasted blazer adorned with found buttons. Mary-Jane’s by Manolo Blahnik.

The collection references John Goto’s reportage photography of the era documenting young British African-Caribbeans at Lewisham Youth Centre. The portraits tell the story of second generation black and asian youths finding love and belonging in the underground blues parties of 1970s London. They are defiantly elegant in their swagger and eclectic in expression. Hippie sensibilities. Conservatism of dress rejected. Identity performed with chest-up pride.

Gatherings in rented flats bond this community, transporting them through music and nightlife. Adidas freizeit in hues of crimson, ochre and emerald green. Connections to the Caribbean worn as emblems. Mod jackets in two-tone tweeds and windowpane check playfully mixed with archival crocheted sportswear silhouettes.  Military influences are present in a tobacco gabardine cadet jacket and a navy twill pea coat fastened with Jamaican gold brass buttons. Rastafarian influences imbued in hand-knit beanies, crafted in raw Scottish shetland wool in collaboration with Stephen Jones. Swan I and II by British Guyanese abstract painter Frank Bowling are reinterpreted onto silk shirts, layers of warmth line soulful outerwear. The swans serve as a metaphor for the urge towards freedom.

The mood is felt through the rhythmic sweetness of Lover’s Rock – tender reggae reverberates from Notting Hill sound systems. Chest-shaking riddims of desire, longing and heartbreak soundtrack a dance between menswear and womenswear introducing a new silhouette.

Interracial couples embrace. 

Paying tribute to the soundsystem culture pioneered at blues parties, Jamie XX presents Dancewme – an original composition for Wales Bonner’s Autumn Winter 20 collection. A layered soundtrack honouring a sonic lineage that continues to inform contemporary British dance music from dub to jungle and dubstep.

A sweet song to the strength of community.

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