Wales Bonner Channels A West African Narrative for Spring/Summer 2022

Wales Bonner Channels A West African Narrative for Spring/Summer 2022

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Wales Bonner Channels A West African Narrative for Spring/Summer 2022

Taking Inspiration from 70s West African Portraiture Photography

Taking Inspiration from 70s West African Portraiture Photography

Text: Michelle Diaz

Courtesy of Wales Bonner

Grace Wales Bonner is saying goodbye for now to her inspiration of merging the two cultures of Britain and the Caribbean together for her collections and is stepping into a new territory. West African ’70s studio portraiture has always been influential to Bonner, but it inspired her to take a deep dive further into what Volta Jazz means to her. 

For Bonner’s Spring and Summer 2022 collection, she takes us into the studio of Sanlé Sory in Bobo-Dioulasso, Volta Photo. “Studio portraiture and photographers, like Malick Sidibé, have been present in my mind since I started designing; they were some of the key references that made me want to create menswear,” Bonner told British Vogue.

Sanlé Sory, L’équilibriste (1972) © Sanlé Sory, Courtesy of Tezeta

In his celebrated studio Volta Photo in Bobo-Dioulasso, Sory captured in black and white, using a Rolleiflex camera, a fashionable group of young, sophisticated visitors, who relished the chance to engage in jubilant acts of self-depiction in a newly-liberated Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso.

 Bonner found interest in this mix of this quite composed and stylish self-representation within the portraits, but also this vibrant nightlife and certain subcultures around the music. She wanted to be inspired by these images, but not to create something super referential; to think about how she could move these influences forward, while bringing a sense of optimism and style to something to move in.

Malick Sidibe ignited in her the idea of self-representation and documenting herself, friends, and close relatives. “The idea of being in control of your own representation is really powerful; you’re not being observed by someone else or being made to fit into someone else’s idea.”

Courtesy of Wales Bonner

This collection goes in a different direction from the past 3, but it’s coming from the same origin of what the brand is and represents. The fabric backdrops and the checkerboard flooring in Sory’s studio, inspired the textiles within the collection. Bonner and her team worked with handwoven cottons made in Burkina Faso, using a traditional technique. There’s also hand crochet, hand-crafted stitching, and indigo dyeing that helped encapsulate the feeling and the sensibility of the studio.

Volta Jazz is accompanied by a film and photograph series created in collaboration with artist Joshua Woods. Also featuring a Spotify playlist,Volta Studio à Volta Jazz, of Burkinabe music from the 1960s and 70s compiled by Florent Mazzoleni and Grace Wales Bonner contextualises and harmonises with the collection.

Courtesy of Wales Bonner

 Watch the film below to see the rest of the collection and shop on walesbonner.net

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