When I heard the name of Wales Bonner’s SS22 collection, “Volta Jazz” it immediately roused nostalgic, bluesy images of West Africa — and to my delight, my assumptions were right. Across a vintage-tinged offering, Wales Bonner and adidas honor West Africa’s 197os cultural golden age.
At the heart of West Africa, the Volta Basin refers to the intersection of Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast, and Benin. For Wales Bonner’s spring/summer offering, the Volta becomes symbolic of the rich cultural exchange that transpired there in the ’70s. From the vibrant portraits of Sanlé Sory’s “Volta Studio,” to Fela Kuti’s world-conquering jazzy afrobeat, the references are tangible.
Presented alongside a nostalgic film by Joshua Woods, the collection radiates the warmth and unbridled creativity of the era, at a time when West African culture is experiencing a global renaissance.
The vintage adidas track jacket is forever
Leave it to Wales Bonner to go into the archives with adidas originals. True to the collection’s ’70s references, the styling around recognizable classics and minimalistic new pieces is truly something to behold.
With this interpolation of the adidas track jacket, Wales Bonner takes the iconic piece outside the traditional realm of sportswear and instead elevates it in the context of dressing up – how about you replace the trainers and joggers with slacks, a turtleneck, and slippers?
Suiting made easy
After a year that turned loungewear into office-wear canon, Wales Bonner wants to give us an alternate proposition: let’s celebrate formalwear comfortably.
It’s a proposition that is made with ease; dinner jackets aren’t restrictive, trousers are flowing, collars are low, and flip-flops can be elegant.
“That feeling of movement and dance and music was present,” the designer told Vogue. “Being prepared for garments to be able to cross over into different spaces. The idea that tailoring can get a bit battered or lived in, and to create something that’s not precious was something I had in mind.”
Knits and pleats
Just as SS22 makes a case for dressing up, it makes the formula quite simple. 1. Comfort is never to be compromised and 2. matching is a good thing.
With pleats from head to toe, this halter top and matching flowing skirt in striking green and yellow evoke West African suave in the unafraid put-togetherness of the fit and its colors – yellow and green are the two colors that were most popular in post-colonial sub-Saharan flags.
If Fela Kuti was a tracksuit
Tracksuits aren’t formalwear? Think again. In a truly vintage take on the beloved clothing pairing, Wales Bonner decks out the two-piece in a loud print, which screams color even in this black-and-white shot. The streamlined pants flow out from the slim-cut jacket with its thick cuffs and turtleneck.
It’s a piece that screams West African disco, and one that’s got our wallets primed and ready.