Grace Wales Bonner Celebrates West African Nightlife in New Collection

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Wales Bonner Spring/Summer 2022 SS22 Volta Jazz Sanle Sory
Wales Bonner Spring/Summer 2022 MenswearCourtesy Grace Wales Bonner

The designer’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection was inspired by the region’s 1970’s studio portraiture – most notably the work of Burkinabé photographer, Sanlé Sory

Grace Wales Bonner has revealed her vibrant new Spring/Summer 2022 collection, Volta Jazz. The campaign, unveiled this week, was inspired by the 1970s-era studio portraiture of West Africa – most notably the work of renowned Burkinabé photographer, Sanlé Sory.

Sory was known for documenting the exuberant, free-spirited nightlife of Burkina Faso. Using black and white film and a Rolleiflex camera, he would capture the country’s young, fun and fashionable from his Bobo-Dioulasso portrait studio. At the time, Burkina Faso was in the midst of a major sociopolitical revolution, having gained full independence from France in the early 1960s (it had previously been known as Upper Volta). In Sory’s images, we see a snapshot of that era – a moment marked by its music, movement and anticipatory hope for a brighter future.

The photographer was a perfect match for Wales Bonner, who – having previously been focused on the cultural link between the UK and Caribbean – has now turned her attention to Africa. Her Spring/Summer 2022 collection revives Sory’s optimistic, sun-kissed aesthetic, injecting it with colour and contemporary flamboyance. As well as featuring traditional West African jacquard fabrics and intricate embroideries, the collection is also characteristically clean, remixing classic 70s shapes with a more simple, 90s-inspired minimalism. 

Volta Jazz is accompanied by a film and photography series, which was created in collaboration with visual artist Joshua Woods (you can watch the film in full below). In addition to that, there is also a Spotify playlist of Burkinabe music from the 1960s and 70s, compiled by Florent Mazzoleni and Wales Bonner, which aims to “contextualise and harmonise with the collection.”