Glass reviews Volta Jazz, the SS22 collection by Wales Bonner

FLUID, light and infused with prints that captivate your eye on every turn –  the Wales Bonner SS22 collection offers clothes that encapsulate the movement of dance, the energy of its accompanying beat, and the spirit of the outdoor nightlife of  ‘70s Burkina Faso, in West Africa.

Bonner’s reference points for each of her collections continue to teach the beholder, opening our eyes to an undiscovered snapshot in time, encouraging us to submerge ourselves in distant pasts to understand today’s present. Wales Bonner is a true token to the power of clothing.

Embedded with a deep consideration for history, Grace Wales Bonner named her Spring Summer 2022 collection Volta Jazz, in an ode to Burkinabe artist, Sanlé Sory, and his photographs of friends enjoying a newly-liberated Upper Volta, (now Burkina Faso – it achieved full independence from France in the early 1960s), which captured them dancing to the orchestral musical group that defined the Bobo Yéyé genre – Volta Jazz.

A time of omnipresent celebration. “Streets pulsing with a chorus of global influences. Sunset festivity punctuated by guitar music and rich electric soundscapes. A culture in a golden age,” Wales Bonner tells us.

The flamboyance of the period is woven into the collection, with West African jacquard, bright mohair knits, and suiting with  stripe accents decorating the seams featured throughout.  Incorporating custom artwork by Sanlé Sory into the designs, as well as direct recreations of the pieces seen worn by the dancers in Sory’s images, Wales Bonner ensured the collection was observing the vibrance of the time with sincere attentiveness, painting a vivid portrait in the process.

This courtesy was also applied in the new methods used to produce the handwoven cottons that were made in Burkina Faso using a traditional technique, as well as in the use of natural dyeing processes to produce rich indigo shades seen in the hand crocheted dresses.

The ‘70s era is celebrated with a warm palette of oranges, reds and browns, and in the incorporation of retro sportswear, which also serves as a gentle nod to the ongoing collaboration Wales Bonner shares with adidas Originals.  The athletic jacquard wear and new iteration of the iconic adidas Country OG silhouette are indicators or the rising taste for old-school.

The sense of youth, of optimism, of freedom that seeps from the Volta Jazz collection is omnipotent. Jazz was once an avenue to distinguish yourself from the past, and today, in the Wales Bonner SS22 collection, it remains a backdrop of modernity, a vibration of excitement for a new future, a foundation of joy.

Volta Jazz is accompanied by a film and photograph series created in collaboration with artist Joshua Woods.


by Lily Rimmer