Fashion

Meet Grace Wales Bonner, the Boundary-Breaking Designer Behind Meghan Markle's White Dress

Grace Wales Bonner's work blurs the line between art and fashion.
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When Meghan Markle dresses, the world listens—and she knows it. Much has been written about the so-called "Markle effect," in which a given garment will sell out online, almost as soon as she's stepped out in it. In the past, the Duchess has highlighted brands she can get behind, which are often eco-friendly, fair trade, or both.

But with her choice for her and Harry's photo call with Baby Sussex—one of her most anticipated looks to date—Meghan really made a statement. She chose a dress designed by Grace Wales Bonner, one of the U.K.'s most celebrated young designers—and one that consistently engages with the concept of gender fluidity and art of the African diaspora. Here, everything you need to know about the British creative.


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Looks from Wales Bonner's fashion show during London Men’s Fashion Week in January 2018.

SHE'S BEEN TIPPED BY BOTH BRITISH VOGUE AND LUXURY FASHION CONGLOMERATE LVMH AS THE NEXT BIG THING.

In 2016, Wales Bonner took home the coveted LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, and just this past week, was awarded the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund's top prize.

HER EPONYMOUS LINE STARTED IN MENSWEAR, AND SOON EXPANDED TO WOMENSWEAR. THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THEM AREN'T CLEAR, AND THAT'S THE POINT.

Wales Bonner's minimalist, streetwear-meets-menswear aesthetic looks good on everyone. "I love it when a boy puts on one of the embroidered jackets that the women wore and doesn’t know the difference—my work is about being open to interpretation," she told the Gentlewoman.

HER COLLECTIONS OFTEN REFERENCE BLACK CULTURE AND LITERATURE.

In the past, Wales Bonner has drawn inspiration from novelist Ishmael Reed, Nigerian writer Ben Okri, artist James Hampton, and early 20th century Harlem.

She's also well-versed in visual art: her Central Saint Martins dissertation examined "black rhythmicality" in the work of Charlie Parker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kerry James Marshall.

"I’m big into creating history and research, and fashion is one outcome," the designer explained to the Guardian. "What I do in fashion could be considered in a wider context; it could be opened up to expose my thought processes."

SOMETIMES SHE SKIPS OVER THE FASHION PART AND JUST DOES THE ART.

This past fall, she opened an exhibition at the U.K.'s Serpentine Galleries, titled "A Time for New Dreams." The exhibition "explored magical resonances within black cultural and aesthetic practices," per its description, and included work from the likes of Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Rashid Johnson, and David Hammons.

Shop Wales Bonner Designs

SHOP NOW: Polo shirt, Wales Bonner, net-a-porter.com, $590.00 SHOP NOW: Printed T-shirt, Wales Bonner, net-a-porter.com, $265.00 SHOP NOW: Oversized wool-twill jacket, Wales Bonner, net-a-porter.com, $1,610.00 SHOP NOW: Silk wide-leg pants, Wales Bonner, net-a-porter.com, $640.00
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