Although photographer John Goto first documented Lover’s Rock, a portrait series of London’s young, British Afro-Caribbean community, back in 1977, it wasn’t exhibited or published until 2013. Now, the arresting, reportage-style photos have become a reference point for acclaimed designer Grace Wales Bonner, whose FW20 show was named Lover’s Rock in tribute to the images, as well as the laid-back, romantic reggae sub-genre.
The spirit of community defined the show, which brought fashion editors to a beautiful horticultural hall in South London. Stacked speakers provided the runway backdrop; elsewhere, the smell of lovingly-prepared food and drink wafted through the venue.
In terms of the collection itself, 70s references and sharp tailoring reigned supreme. Tweed blazers came with striking contrast panelling, whereas checked prints made it onto several standout looks including a boxy, longline blazer and a pair of extreme wide-leg trousers with a paper-bag waist.
The school uniforms and track jackets of Goto’s photos – taken at Lewisham’s Youth Centre, where he taught night classes in photography – were also subtly referenced through a continuation of Wales Bonner’s collaboration with Adidas, as well as a pleated, checked schoolgirl skirt teamed with grey tights and contrast leather Mary Janes.
Wales Bonner shows are known for their small venues and often tight guest-list, creating a sense of genuine community spirit this season. A combination of music, food and classic, stripped-back looks (Wales Bonner’s past work has tended towards couture) managed to avoid the feeling of strict regulation that often lingers over fashion shows, prioritising joy over all else.
GALLERYCatwalk images from Wales Bonner FW20