Grace Wales Bonner, recipient of the 2016 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers
Credit: LVMH

Grace Wales Bonner, the 25-year-old designer behind gender fluid menswear label Wales Bonner was overnight awarded the third annual LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.

For her eponymous label, Wales Bonner designs opulent, androgynous suiting and sportswear that embodies a hybrid European and African sensibility. By mixing couture techniques with artisan African craftsmanship, Wales Bonner explores complex ideas about representations of black male sexuality and identity – constructs which are often subverted through the confluence of feminine silhouettes and the signifiers of European luxury fashion, like intricate Swarovski embellishment. Wales Bonner’s cerebral collections are also substantiated with her research into critical theory, literature, composition and history, which has found another home in two (so far) published volumes of her bi-annual publication Everythings for Real.

A native of southeast London, Wales Bonner – who was raised by a Jamaican father and an English mother – graduated Central Saint Martins in 2014 to academic and critical acclaim, after which time she was invited to show with Fashion East at London Collections: Men before becoming the youngest designer invited to exhibit as part of the V&A Museum’s prestigious Fashion in Motion programme.

Fashion in Motion: Grace Wales Bonner’s A/W15 Ebonics collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Credit: Courtesy of V&A

Fashion in Motion: Grace Wales Bonner’s A/W15 Ebonics collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Credit: Courtesy of V&A

Wales Bonner is now the recipient of 300,000 euros and a yearlong mentorship with LVMH that will allow her to develop her business, which she so far manages to run with one other collaborator. Her designs are currently stocked by some of the world’s most influential boutiques both online and in a bricks-and-mortar capacity, including Matches, LNCC, Joyce, SSense and 10 Corso Como.

The LVMH Prize jury, whose members included Delphine Arnault, Nicolas Ghesquière, Phoebe Philo, Riccardo Tisci, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim, Pierre-Yves Roussel, Jean-Paul Claverie and Karl Lagerfeld also awarded a special prize to the youngest entrant in the competition, 19-year-old Canadian Vejas Kruszewski of his eponymou label Vejas.

An autodidact who learned to sew by watching video tutorials on YouTube, the Toronto-based Vejas received 150,000 euros and a year long mentorship with one of the organisations that together makes up the world’s largest luxury conglomerate.

Watch this space.

Tile image: Courtesy of LVMHCover image: Courtesy of Wales Bonner