Just like Lee Roach built a refreshing narrative with his runway show through the means of collaboration, so did Grace Wales Bonner with her Fashion East presentation, in which she constructed an environment with relaxed models, hanging out on carpets in all things bejewelled, against the backdrop of a sunset. Something you’d like to be a part of. A laid-back opulence, created by mixing couture techniques with African crafts. What stood out most? The storytelling aspect, and Grace’s continued focus on blaxploitation.
That said, one thing we still wonder about, is why the idea of having an all-black concept/show still seems so new, just like the concept of using plus size models still seems to be controversial? But then, Grace, who won the L’Oreal award for her Central Saint Martins BA graduate collection last year, doesn’t want to be pigeonholed in any way and leaves the collection open for interpretation.
A take-away lesson from looking at this presentation, which drew in a lot of curious spectators, is that a designer’s success in 2015 doesn’t come from just making pretty clothes; being a pretty designer, or having a pretty business model: it all needs to work coherently together in one pretty concept. As Simon Collins recently said, people don’t just want to know about the clothes anymore, and it’s also not enough to know about ‘the fashion house’: people want to become part of this carefully constructed world. The audience wants to know the brain behind the clothes; see his/her life through Instagram and be able to identify with him/her. In this respect, Grace is well on her way.
Besides this, we think it is thrilling that Fashion East supports somebody as young as a recent BA Fashion graduate and gives them a platform to continue their work at the very start of their careers. High five to Lulu Kennedy for creating these opportunities!
Photography by Jorinde Croese