Mood board: Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2014, Wales Bonner’s rich, vampy take on black queerness has inspired a raft of fashion editorials and street style mise-en-scènes. In 2015 she was awarded Emerging Menswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards and the following June received the prestigious LVMH Prize. Her esoteric approach has crafted a signature style rooted in cultural identity and intellectual interrogation. For S/S 2018 Bonner makes a much leaner proposition, designing through a more minimalist lens: ‘I didn’t want to hide behind anything,’ she said, ‘I was interested in subtlety. Sensuality, not sexuality.’ The collection is sexy in its stark tailoring; queer flourishes are pushed and tucked into luxurious, modern cuts. Fabrics explore the patina of wear as soft lambskin is sun-bleached and cottons are crushed.
Finishing touches: Shoes were in collaboration for the second time with Manolo Blahnik. The models each wore a version of a square-toed backless loafer in either high-shine or interwoven leather. Another style came in a crocodile textured skin with bright orange or blue panels, mirroring the stripes on slim-fitting trousers.
Sound bite: ‘I was thinking about black queer perspectives and a lot of my inspiration came from looking at literature,’ said Bonner. ‘Looking at the world through that kind of lens and thinking about sexuality and thinking about male relationships in every way. Carl Van Vechten’s homoerotic photography and Chris Ofili’s Blue Biceps painting from 2005 were two brilliant representations of the themes I was thinking about. And I love Hilton Als’ work. His essay about James Baldwin captured a lot of what I was thinking about.’