LVMH Prize goes to Grace Wales Bonner
Grace Wales Bonner has won the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.
The Central Saint Martins alumnus, 25, scooped the prestigious accolade after beating the likes of Brandon Maxwell, Koche, by Christelle Kocher and Aalto, by Tuomas Merikoski. Grace was presented the award by French actress Lea Seydoux during the ceremony at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris on Thursday (16Jun16), with her gender-defying menswear pieces breaking boundaries in the industry.
Her Spring/Summer 16 collection was inspired by 16th century Ethiopian slave-turned-ruler, Malik Ambar, with items like Swarovski crystal encrusted jackets and sleek silk skirts.
"I think of my collections as a whole - I wouldn't necessarily break them up into men's and women's," Grace told elleuk.com. "I'm more interested in breaking down the conventional way things happen, I'm trying to disturb the framework."
Grace's unique approach to menswear scored her 300,000 euros (£237,000) and a year-long mentorship from LVHM. Big names like Karl Lagerfeld, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Phoebe Philo and Marc Jacobs sat on the panel which made the final choice, with executive vice president of LVMH, Delphine Arnault, praising Grace for her work.
“Every edition is so different, and the jury’s discussions about the candidates over lunch are passionate,” she told vogue.com. “Grace’s point of view is really unique and specific, and at the same time you can see her potential for growth. You can see in her menswear the place she could occupy in womenswear, and her work with embroidery was very compelling.”
Something else that made Grace's presentation stand out was her use of mostly non-white models on the catwalk, a decision that stemmed from her own upbringing as a half-Jamaican, half-English female in south London.
"My work is about showing non-prescriptive representation and pushing a broader spectrum of black representation," she explained. "The industry is saturated with white models and, while I don't like the way people decide to 'do a black show', this is simply a representation of beauty I'm trying to put out there.
"People were telling me who I should be: black, white. As I got older, I realised there's no prescriptive way of being anything. You negotiate your own identity."