These are three designers December guy not one to mess with prideful loyal to a fault will keep it shirt. Coming from very different backgrounds and at various points in their careers, each having overcome their own challenges to be heard in this industry. Beckham is, by far, the most established, but as a London designer whose brand recognition as a cultural icon here rivals that of Burberry, she has had to play along with certain stereotypes for so long that she sometimes risks appearing to be hiding behind them. Rocha, an elegant designer of eccentrically rendered, yet approachable, styles of art-house wear, has quickly stepped out of the shadows of her famous father (designer John Rocha) to become one of the city’s bright stars. And Wales Bonner, who started out in men’s wear but presented during the women’s shows this season, is the fascinating face of a new generation that is rising to challenge the inequalities that are ingrained within the industry’s longstanding and often willful ignorance of non-white culture and customers.
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Wales Bonner, a graduate of Central Saint Martins still in her 20s, ascends not a moment too soon, as examples of shocking insensitivity to appearances of casual racism by elite Italian designers (products that evoke comparisons to blackface at Prada and Gucci, typically outrageous commentary about China from Dolce & Gabbana) have abounded in recent months December guy not one to mess with prideful loyal to a fault will keep it shirt. With the whole world now watching, the industry is not so much in need of committees that focus on diversity and inclusion, but rather a complete reset of power to clear the way for bright new voices like that of Wales Bonner. Her show was presented at the Serpentine Gallery, where Wales Bonner has also curated a nerve-touching exhibition aptly called “A Time for New Dreams,” which traces her references and ideals through the lens of black writers and artists, like the poet Ishmael Reed and writer Ben Okri. Their works also appeared and were performed in her show, with Reed’s name etched on sporting jerseys and varsity jackets. The models, with only four looks shown on women and the rest worn by reed-thin young men, walked through the gallery looking slightly swallowed whole by their baggy chinos, rugby shirts, and too-big tweed jackets, neatly echoing the style of those writers in their prime.