Grace Wales Bonner’s AW24 menswear outing was a lesson in the art of cultural exchange. Calling it Dream Study, the London-based designer’s hand was guided by an interaction with Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center; she’d been spending a lot of time stateside on account of her having curated an exhibition at the MoMA called Spirit Movers last year. The historically-Black institution, located in Washington DC, has long been home to a vibrant student community, and, looking through its 1990s yearbooks, Grace found her point of departure. From “hip-hop performances” and “readings from the poets” to “international gatherings on the campus green”, the culture that informed Bonner’s rather refined, collegiate collection was enough to prompt us to consider applying.
Stepping to the hip-hop sample sounds of Rashad Ringo Smith and Yasiin Bey, out came an array of collegiate layering paired with slouchy trousers and midi skirts. In a lot of ways the collection was an original take on the MC style worn in those yearbooks: baggy quarter-zip jumpers, wool duffle coats and “Howard” logo crewnecks layered over collared shirts, underscored by silver-decked Timberland boots and a croc-embossed leather reprise of the Adidas Originals Superstar. It also paid homage to the prestigious sports legacy of the school through varsity blousons with ‘WB’ letter patches, satin baseball jerseys and sleeveless crew sweaters.
Bonner’s ongoing partnership with Savile Row tailors Anderson and Sheppard spawned the elegant tuxedos and cashmere coats that mingled between a number of pieces embroidered with crocheted mirrors handmade in India or crafted from vintage Kantha quilts. The combination of cultural references was as high-flying as it was effortless.
Photography courtesy of Wales Bonner.