PARIS, France — Maybe it was a sign of things to come. While getting a closer look at Grace Wales Bonner’s collection, Marc Jacobs told her how much he loved the jacket she was wearing, which featured Wales Bonner’s signature cowrie shell and crystal embroidery.
Delphine Arnault, executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and the woman behind the LVMH Prize, agreed. A few hours later, Bonner became the third winner of the LVMH Prize, receiving €300,000 and a year’s worth of mentoring.
Bonner is most prominent in menswear (she has recently started adapting some pieces for women) and her work has aimed to show a soft and sensual vision of blackness, which is often associated with aggressiveness in the wider culture. She is admired for her emotional presentations, her choice of beautiful, black male models and her ability to meld Western tailoring with influences from Africa, India, or — most recently — the Caribbean. Another aspect of her design is what she calls “hybridity,” an aspiration to allow different cultures to coexist on their own terms in fashion design, evident in her latest collection for Spring/Summer 2017, which she showed during London Collections: Men. Doing research on Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, an 18th century composer and violinist from Guadeloupe, she was attracted to the idea of creative men like him, who were integrated into European culture but were able to bring something of their original culture into their work — and dress.
Originally published on Business of Fashion