Menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner explores sexuality, black ‘70s and Senegalese culture with photographer Harley Weir and Julia Sarr-Jamois, i-D magazine’s senior fashion editor. Partnering with the two, the team traveled to Senegal to bring the collection to life. Wrestlers, locals and kids were part of the cast of the trip. Donned in Grace’s Ebonics collection—entitled Malik—Senegalese wrestlers bring both personality and essence to her clothes from bouts in pink lakes to shots of their training and homes.
Denim bellbottoms imposed on the city or pastel lakes and striped suits caught in motion, these are the products of a respect for Senegalese culture and Bonner’s challenge to notions of black men. In the video that accompanies the photo exploration, we get personal with a Lebou wrestler. Learning of his morning rituals, we follow part of the young wrestler’s journey to becoming a top wrestler while also being shown intimate scenes of him in his home. Bonner noted that she hopes through her collections and presentations, to bring a softer view of black men. The video humanizes and characterizes the wrestlers who wore her clothes. For her, there is so much more nuance to black men than the art and fashion world’s perception of them as “street.” From photographing at Lake Rebta (or Lac Rose), known for its pinkish hue, to close-up portrait shots accentuated with subtle blush, Bonner pushes back on ideas of masculinity, femininity and sexuality.
See more visuals and the video at i-D.
Mark Igbinadolor, Creative Director and Contributing Writer