Fashion has always been regarded as art; therefore, it is no wonder that when artists and designers collaborate, there is a joining of two different mediums of artistry that has limitless potential for innovative creations.
Designer Grace Wales Bonner has recently attempted to capture some of this creative potential by collaborating with artist Eric N. Mack to create a new exhibit entitled “Blue Duets.” The installation, which is currently on display at the Totokaelo store in New York City, draws inspiration from her Spring 2018 collection.
“Blue Duets” emphasizes and was predominantly inspired by queer black literature, jazz, the photography of Carl Van Vechten, and blue, the color for which the exhibit is named. It was noted by both the artist and the designer that the installation also needed to reflect the various hues of Bonner’s collection that was recently unveiled at Totokaelo.
“Looking at the color palette was very important,” Mack said. “I took note of the variety of textiles used in the collection—plaids, black satins, leathers, and linens. I begin to consider how these materials could affect space, free from the body.” For Wales Bonner, “Blue Duet” was a means of capturing the essence of the collection outside of her Spring 2018 show. Wales Bonner further remarked that she wanted to create a blue mood that also had elements of sensuality. She believed both were achieved through Mack’s use of blue fabric.
Wales Bonner, the English-Jamaican menswear designer, is not new to this creative scene. After being awarded the LVMH prize in 2016 by actress and Louis Vuitton brand ambassador Lea Seydoux, she was launched onto the scene, highly regarded for her ability to incorporate cultural and emotional statements into her work. The LVMH prize is one of the most prestigious and lucrative in the industry, with over 1,000 applicants every year.
In 2015, Bonner’s work was a part of an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum that was entitled “Fashion in Motion” that was a series of live fashion shows. Her collection on display was renowned for its cross-cultural influence. She also remarked that the museum was the perfect setting to display the hybridity that she was attempting to convey.
Wales Bonner also created her Fall 2018 Menswear collection alongside Eric N. Mack in the hopes that the two would influence each other and that their work would develop together. This collection continued to explore Africanism, but this time, it was through the eyes of Creole sailors. Prints in the design drew from the work of African-American artist Jacob Lawrence.
Wales Bonner hopes to continue to find new and innovative ways to combine art and fashion, as well as encourage other designers to do the same in the future.