Scene setting: A funny thing happened at Bonner’s A/W 2020 show inside Lindley Hall. Guests, invited to sit at circular trestle tables as if at an impromptu underground blues party, naturally took to introducing themselves to their tablemates – inspiring a convivial mood which riffed off the layered Lover’s Rock/dub step sound. In each corner, Caribbean cuisine was on standby, sorrel tea – made up of ginger, dried orange zest and cloves – was ladled into glass cups. A tower of Notting Hill speakers formed the backdrop to the show. The room felt like a warm embrace.
Mood board: Bonner has been adept at aligning herself with some of the 21st century’s most revered black intellectuals. In January last year she co-curated a multidisciplinary show at Serpentine Gallery which brought together the Black Audio Film Collective, artists David Hammons and Rashid Johnson, as well as poet Ben Okri. For A/W 2020, she looked to the Guyana-born British artist Frank Bowling, using two of his lyrical swan paintings as prints for silk shirting. ‘It seemed that everyone was expecting me to paint some kind of protest art out of postcolonial discussion,’ he said in a 2012 interview with The Guardian. But the work isn’t always an answer or a question, it just is. Bonner also explored the photographic series capturing young British African-Caribbeans at Lewisham Youth Centre, South London taken in 1977 by John Goto. Her muse is a generation between cultures – one rejecting the conservative values of home in favour of a new way of being.
Team work: Bonner’s style is formal and rigorous. The colour palette of red, green, mustard and brown were West London hippie meets 1970s reggae regalia. A/W 2020 was a distinct wardrobe of tailoring interrupted by tidy, high neck knits or lean trackpants: Britishness channelled in Donkey jackets, moleskin blazers and military cadet styles. A smart navy pea-coat was fastened with Jamaican gold brass buttons. Tailoring was in two-tone tweed. Models wore a range of Adidas Originals footwear and clothes from a forthcoming capsule collection produced by the label – their famous three stripes replaced with a crotchet lace.
London based writer Dal Chodha is editor-in-chief of Archivist Addendum — a publishing project that explores the gap between fashion editorial and academe. He writes for various international titles and journals on fashion, art and culture and is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. Chodha has been working in academic institutions for more than a decade and is Stage 1 Leader of the BA Fashion Communication and Promotion course at Central Saint Martins. In 2020 he published his first book SHOW NOTES, an original hybrid of journalism, poetry and provocation.
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