Monday, October 2, 2023

Grace Wales Bonner Explores Black Power with a Solo ‘Fashion In Motion’ Exhibition at V&A

While we at SPICE begin a month of thinking ‘Flower Power’ here on the site, Central Saint Martins graduate and menswear designer, Grace Wales Bonner has presented a solo exhibition at the prestigious V&A museum in London, focused on black power, the “blaxploitation” of the ’70s and notions of blackness.

Held as part of the Fashion in Motion initiative originally set up by Alexander McQueen in 1999 and which has seen exhibitions by Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier and Gareth Pugh, Ms Wales Bonner presented a mixture of her work so far, exploring her influences, which have black identity at the roots and involve the collision of cultures – the designer herself being of English and Jamaican heritage.

Sketches from Grace Wales Bonner’s Spring/Summer’15 collection, “Afrique,” which you can view, here

The 23-year-old talent, who has been tipped for great things in fashion’s future explained of the exhibition;

“The collection that I showed was a mixture of… my graduate collection, called “Afrique”  and that was basically  looking at blaxploitation references from the ’70s and also African contemporary photography; thinking about a turning point in people’s thinking around the ’70s when black people were taking a bit more ownership of how they were represented.”

A look from the exhibition
A look from the exhibition

Models raised their fists at the exhibition to reference the time black people took ownership of how they were represented
Models raised their fists at the exhibition to reference the turning point in the ’70s, when black people began to take ownership of how they were represented

In her V&A presentation for Fashion in Motion, which is created by senior V&A curator, Claire Wilcox, models moved to the music of a live choir – at one point raising their fists a la the iconic black power salute – with some having limbs dipped in glitter, but all clad in the talent’s standout designs and heavily embellished accessories.

Captured on film by Carlos Jiminez for V&A, the free exhibit held on April 10th can be viewed here below in all its glory, with Team SPICE suggesting you watch it, tell us what you think on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @SPICETVAFRICA, and wish more power to the young Grace Wales Bonner in all her creative pursuits.

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