Wales Bonner completes her fashion trilogy with Saint Lucia chic
Black culture encountered British classicism again at Wales Bonner, where the leitmotif this season was the poetry of Derek Walcott, the Nobel Prize winner born on the small Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.
Like much of Walcott’s remarkable poetry, which references his back-and-forth between his hometown of Castries, and his time as a professor in New York and Boston, the mood of this collection by Grace Wales Bonner was rhapsodic and nostalgic.
Opening with shots of a Caribbean forest – wind blowing though huge banana tree leaves – and capturing Walcott’s calls for a return to traditional life as an antidote to colonialism, the five-minute film is the concluding chapter of a trilogy designed to illuminate the world of "Caribbean Thought and Black British Intellectualism."
A young gent in a houndstooth check jacket reads poems from works like The Prodigal or The Gulf, by Walcott, a statue of whom stands in St Lucia’s capital.
Seconds later, there appears an exceptional black and white shirt with a beautiful image of a small fishing boat heeling in a windy gulf. Though shot in Jamaica and London, the film captures the sense of longing for one’s homeland in the work of Walcott and his longing for Saint Lucia, a particularly beautiful island famed for dual southern volcanic peaks, the Pitons.
Perfectly cut Norfolk jackets in beige checks with contrast collars; pristine white tuxedo jackets – from a collaboration with Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard – with band collar shirts and charming pajama pants in broad stripes. All mingled in with Wales Bonner’s collab with adidas, adding a kickier note to the fashion film, where the light seemed to caress the entire cast, lingering over the beauty of youth.
The video, by the designer and Jamaican filmmaker Jeano Edwards, who also read the poems on the soundtrack, was entitled "The Light of Black Sunlight." All told, it was a touching expression of Black nobility at its sartorial best. Which rather sums up Wales Bonner’s whole career and aesthetic.
Surely this film would have appealed to Walcott, whose poem "Statues" reads:
"Boys will be boys.
Who can instruct them where true honour lies?
Instinct or choice,
Proclaims it lies within
War’s furious, dandiacal discipline."
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