Grace Wales Bonner is bringing her design aesthetic Stateside with a new partnership with Nordstrom.
The British designer is teaming with the retailer for a visual installation that takes over Nordstrom’s New York City flagship’s Broadway Bar, converting the space into the Stay Cool Bar, which is a visual installation and monthlong takeover. Wales Bonner and Nordstrom celebrated the partnership on Wednesday night with a party at the flagship.
For the visual installation, Wales Bonner looked to her spring 2023 men’s collection, which she debuted at Pitti Uomo last June, by highlighting West African craftsmanship and culture.
“The collection is thinking about celebrating different craft traditions, so there’s a lot of pattern making in the collection, hand dyeing and artisanal beading,” Wales Bonner said. “It was about celebrating different cultural perspectives and then just bringing in the inspiration and research that informed the collection as well. Hopefully [customers] can experience a bit of the inspiration behind the brand and the collection and how that connects to that wider culture, so hopefully people can really appreciate it in person.”
Along with the visual installation, Nordstrom and Wales Bonner teamed with Black Discourse, an incubator that curates art and culture from Black artists globally, to host a panel earlier on Wednesday with its creative director Zion Estrada, Wales Bonner and writer Antwaun Sargent.
“[The visual installation] is a better connection to the very authentic references and stories that go behind the Wales Bonner collection,” said Sam Lobban, executive vice president and general merchandising manager at Nordstrom. “Independently, the clothes speak volumes, they’ve definitely got a vibe to them. But really it’s the same thing with Grace’s ability to tell a story through clothing, but build in a lot of references and how could we put together a space with her whereby people would get more of that nuance and those reference points that come through.”
Wales Bonner’s visual installation comes a few weeks after the designer made her Paris Fashion Week debut with her fall 2023 collection that included more womenswear pieces as well as footwear and jewelry, which are categories she’s recently expanded into.
“Womenswear is now accounting for 50 percent of the business, so it’s quite significant,” she explained. “I think we’re really strongly developing the women’s identity, so that’s exciting to give strength to the women’s character and see that influencing things. There are so many different elements that Wales Bonner can do and express, so to introduce new categories just goes into that world that we can offer.”
Earlier this week, Wales Bonner also debuted her collection with Adidas for the Jamaican Football Federation. The collection offers football kits for the country’s women’s and men’s teams and is available for purchase now.
“It’s interesting to design something within a performance context because it’s such a different criteria than designing in a different context,” she said. “For me, it was personally very special to connect with my heritage in that way and do something that’s so accessible to people. It was a really special and uplifting moment.”
Nordstrom’s Stay Cool Bar with Wales Bonner’s visual installation is open now through early March.