• Text Lewis Firth
  • Photography Harry Clark
  • 16th June 2015

Cultural codes

Fashion East 

The pioneering initiative, headed by Lulu Kennedy, has helped spawn some of the greatest designers in the British and international fashion industries. Only two designers share the spotlight at Fashion East this season: Wales Bonner and Charles Jeffrey. But what they’ve brought packs a punch.

Wales Bonner 

Striking a thought-evoking chord has become Wales Bonner’s calling-card. Her designs are rooted in historical references that offer insight into cultural codes, behaviours and race. Last season, Bonner focused on the Harlem Renaissance, however, this time her focus moved to the East with ideas stemming from an Ethiopian leader who ruled in 16th century India: Malik Ambar. Sold into slavery as a child, he eventually became a popular political aid used for his warfare-acumen.

This history became a dance between cultural and modern-day signifiers: white linen-shirts – tied-up rather than button-fastened – and suits with flared trousers, tight tees, all stylised delicately with neck-scarves, wide collars and mother-of-pearl detailing. A play between codes of wealth and hardship. Like Jeffrey, Bonner creates a narrative that draws you in. Her ideology isn’t bound by threads and fabric, which is why she’ll continue to burn a lasting shadow in the LC:M schedule.