The book-smart designer talks about her mixed heritage, literary influences and why she is exploring a ‘gentler’ black male identity
There are not many designers who I interview and leave with a reading list. But Grace Wales Bonner’s company is unapologetically highbrow. Thanks to her, I have now read James Baldwin’s 1956 novella Giovanni’s Room and want to read Gary Fisher’s notebooks, published after he died of Aids in 1994 at the age of 32. That’s the book propped up on her bedside table.
Rest assured, Fisher isn’t there for any opportune shelfie purposes. Fashion is a world in which a veneer of cleverness – wearing glasses with non-prescription lenses, for example – is often mistaken for actual intelligence. But 26-year-old Wales Bonner is the real thing: book-smart, almost academic, in her thinking.