Grace Wales Bonner is an emerging menswear designer who recently graduated from Central Saint Martins in London, United Kingdom.
What makes her stand out from the millions of artists that are nowadays working in the fashion industry is the fact that she takes inspiration from meaningful concepts and themes when creating those beautifully crafted pieces.
Her Spring Summer 2015 graduate collection is named Afrique and it is inspired by Nigerian culture, celebrating black self-representation, and “working inside established frames of reference to create something new”.
It deals with real people who are proud of their heritage, who are not ashamed to show themselves, who fight to preserve their own individuality.
Her capacity and skills were rewarded soon after its launch, indeed she won the 2014 L’Oreal Professional Designer of the Year prize.
Her talent in design alongside with her determination to work hard and succeed were additionally confirmed in January, when she presented her Fall Winter 2015 collection – entitled Ebonics – at Fashion East, which is known for announcing next British prodigies.
Her reputation was furthermore increased after the presentation of her creations at the Victoria and Albert museum on April 2015 as part of the “Fashion in Motion” series.
The initial stimulus comes again from black visual culture and African crafts: being born by an English mother and a Jamaican father, she in fact loves exploring her origins and crossing cultural hybridity. As she announced in one of the interviews, the V&A felt like the perfect space to present her works.
More precisely, she was this time influenced by African luxury fashion and its couture techniques. Her works are characterized by a meticulous attention to details and the presence of numerous embellishements comprising Swarovski crystals and intricate pieces of jewellery.
As a result she presents very high quality garments with beautiful handcrafted embroideries while the style ends up being super ethnical and without any exact inclination of gender – which makes the collection more wearable for a wider public.
Hussein Chalayan is a British/Turkish Cypriot fashion designer, globally known for being an innovator. The huge success he has nowadays mainly comes from the meaningful concepts laying behind his collections and his ability to create products that are unique in the market.
Born in Nicosia in 1970, he soon moves to London and takes the British citizenship. After studying at Warwickshire School of Arts, he manages to enter the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (also graduating there).
He immediately gets noticed for his creativity and starts being rewarded with many prizes. His main inspirations are contemporary society and the two different cultures in the middle of whom he grew up. However architecture, philosophy and technology are other important stimulus.
The designer’s career is also characterized by numerous collaborations and partnerships with brands such as Yoox, Swarowsky, Puma but also celebrities like singer Lady Gaga and avant-garde artist Bjork.
Today, I want to present here one of his shows – influenced by the Turkish Cypriot heritage – which is Spring Summer 1998.
The collection is intended as a statement on the oppression of Muslim women and displays models wearing chadors of varying lengths – from fully clothed to totally nude.
On 21st April 1998, the New York Times states: “Few designers can move an audience to tears — they might bring people to their feet or bore them to distraction — but clothes are rarely so poignant that they elicit crying. Hussein Chalayan proved he possessed such power with his spring 1998 collection in England last season, a provocative exploration of Islamic women’s place in society using the chador as the fulcrum.”
To the many critics he received he replied: “It wasn’t really supposed to be offensive. It was supposed to illustrate a particular kind of position. This was about the cultural loss of self.“