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British designers look to the Caribbean for their shows at Paris fashion week | Paris Fashion Week

British designers look to the Caribbean for their shows at Paris fashion week |  Paris Fashion Week
British designers look to the Caribbean for their shows at Paris fashion week |  Paris Fashion Week


WWith her impeccable tailoring and intellectual credentials, Grace Wales Bonner is a high fashion favorite. But his London-based eponymous brand is now attracting greater attention, thanks to its collaborations with Adidas. The Samba's recent boom can be traced back to a silver version of the shoe she designed. And she was also responsible for the popular kits worn by Jamaican women's footballers during the 2023 World Cup.

Her show in Paris on Wednesday evening provided further examples of how she knows how to please connoisseurs and customers alike. Designs included a take on the classic mac, satin suits and subtly speckled color knits, worn with a red swimsuit. But there was also a tracksuit with shorts, and new sneakers including a Superstar which are sure to arouse enthusiasm online.

Prints by Althea McNish were used on some pieces. The artist and designer, who arrived in London from Trinidad in the 1950s, worked on fabrics for companies such as Heals, and her Golden Harvest textile was a best-seller. Transposed to Wales Bonner's very modern clothes, the dynamic and sketchy designs gave a mid-century charm.

Jamaican-born Wales Bonner found McNish inspiring as someone who had popularized a perspective that was not usually part of the mainstream. She brought what she describes as her tropical eye, or Caribbean sensibility, to the depiction of Trinidadian flora and fauna, but also British landscapes, Wales Bonner said. [She is someone] who brings his legacy and does something that spreads and is very influential.

The Bianca Saunders show in Paris was inspired by vintage Caribbean vacation style. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

Bianca Saunders is another Paris-based British designer who has turned her sights to the Caribbean. For her show, she approached Jamaica, where her family is from, from the perspective of a tourist. Titled The Hotel, his collection was inspired in part by the work of photojournalist Bradley Smith and his 1956 book Escape to the West Indies: A Guidebook to the Islands of the Caribbean.

This resulted in elegant tailoring nodding to resort butlers, as well as string bags and tunics referencing fishermen. But there were also clothes that indicated relaxation: satin loungewear, short beach shorts, and easy sequins for evening.

There were fun versions of practical pieces such as a long plastic mac for rainy days, printed reusable shopping bags and Saunders' take on that holiday classic, the tourist t-shirt. One read Who God Bless No Man Curse, while another presented a recipe for a happy home.

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A new version of the tourist T-shirt. Photo: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Saunders said Smith's photographs provided a filter. I was thinking about what it would have been like to go to Jamaica in the 1940s, but also about using the modernism of my identity, she said.

The T-shirt slogans come from things found in Jamaican homes, it's a Christian country and they use sayings [such as Who God Bless No Man Curse] live, she said.

Knee-high boots, worn with baggy shorts and a casual shirt, made a strong silhouette on a few outfits and came from sightings on previous trips to Jamaica. Even though it's in the Caribbean, people wear winter clothes. Boots are part of Yardie culture, Saunders said.

Saunders won the BFC/GQ Designer Fashion Fund this month, a prize of 100,000. She follows in the footsteps of Wales Bonner: the latter won the prize in 2023, suggesting that recognition and support for British designers of color, in London and Paris, may finally take hold. root in fashion.




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