Wales Bonner’s Twilight Reverie for FW23
Designer Grace Wales Bonner infuses both her Jamaican and English roots into a collection that is an ode to the creatives that inhabit the city of Paris
For the first day of Paris Men’s Fashion Week, Wales Bonner presented a collection that acted as an ode to the diverse cast of characters that make up the Paris art scene. The showing took place at the elaborately storied Parisian Hôtel d’Évreux, where models walked to a soundtrack that contained original commissions from Kendrick Lamar, Duval Timothy, and Sampha. Titled, Twilight Reverie, referring to the state of daydreaming while the sun is setting, the collection focuses on the intrinsically unique artist that calls Paris home.
Inspired by black artists, creatives, and thinkers who have worked with Paris as their backdrop, such as James Baldwin, Aimé Césaire, Alioune Diop, and Frantz Fanon, designer Grace Wales Bonner has crafted an effortless wardrobe for the modern-day creator. In accordance with her art history references, Bonner has recruited British artist Lubaina Himid for the creation of signature artwork for both shirting and silk scarves.
The tailoring for this season is intentionally casual in its fit, creating silhouettes that are relaxed without ever losing structural integrity. Even for formal evening wear, exquisitely crafted silk tuxedos, made in collaboration with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard, are paired with either a slouchy pair of pants, shorts, or a more casual shoe. Wales Bonner has mastered the look of formality, while always avoiding any sort of stuffiness, an impressive feat for the 31-year-old designer.
In addition to carefully crafted tailoring, the collection also offers a range of tactile embellishments: from baroque pearls to Swarovski crystals, to cowrie shells. These sorts of tasteful oddities are the moments where the free spirit of artistry is delighted in — fit for your friend who will get lost somewhere in a daydream on their way to your lunch plans, but you immediately forget the fact they are late for the mere reason of realizing their jacket is embellished with a careful arrangement of cowrie shells. This balance between casual silhouettes and carefully curated accents is what makes Bonner’s designs undeniably chic.
The English brand’s ongoing collaboration with adidas Originals, one of the few surviving collaborations in the industry that contain a true tone of authenticity, has been further explored for fall. The infusion of classic men’s pinstripes has been infused into classic adidas silhouettes, while football jerseys are shown in a bright Jamaican yellow. These yellow jerseys act as a prelude to Wales Bonner’s upcoming collaboration with the country’s national football team, for what is sure to be a massive success, coming from the brand that pioneered blokecore.
Grace Wales Bonner has found a niche for herself in menswear, infusing her Jamaican heritage with her south London upbringing to create an effortlessly luxe wardrobe for the modern day man. The world of Wales Bonner is a world where a football jersey can come down the runway immediately after a carefully tailored jacket does; with neither garment losing an ounce of integrity for what they are.
In addition to their Jamaican and English roots, Bonner’s designs can also be described as the epitome of Parisian style; casually, effortlessly, and unabashedly cool. She has had original music made for her show by rap legend Kendrick Lamar, she subtly drops hints at her collaboration with a country’s national football team, and she places her show in the axis of luxury in what could be argued as the world’s most fashionable city.