LONDON MENSWEAR designer Grace Wales Bonner has secured her place on every “Designers to Watch” list by being named the winner of this year’s prestigious LVMH Prize, which honours young, emerging talent.
The prize itself consists of 300 thousand euros (about $334,000 dollars) and a mentorship from LVMH suits. Previous winners Thomas Tait and denim prodigies, Marques’ Almeida.
Grace’s ascent, only two years out of design school, has been one of the more delightful to watch in the industry.
The 25-year-old was listed on this year’s inaugural Forbes Under 30 Europe list, which profiles the 300 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders across Europe who are under 30 years of age and who are transforming business, technology, finance, media, culture and more.
She explores black male sexuality and identity with far-ranging creative sources, from 19th century Africa to Chanel and 70s blaxploitation films.
Born in London to an English mother and Jamaican father, Grace approaches fashion with an anthropological eye and bold, theatrical presentations.
“I am drawn to black culture as a way of understanding that side of my heritage, and interested in how black identity is manifested through rhythms, how something like jazz can disrupt conventional European rhythmicality,” she told Dazed.
“I am hugely inspired by the black painter Kerry James Marshall and the 70s genre blaxploitation, both play with and disturb institutionalised notions of blackness.”
She won Emerging Menswear Designer at the 2015 British Fashion Awards and, as of this year, her gender crossing current collection will be sold as womenswear at matches fashion.com.
The jury for this year’s prize were comprised of such industry heavy-weights as Nicolas Ghesquiere, Marc Jacobs and Phoebe Philo—a seal of approval and good faith if there ever was one.