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Bianca Saunders Personal Politics
Photography Adama Jalloh

The designer challenging the policing of black masculinity

Bianca Saunders’ exhibition examines the sexuality, vulnerability and gendered expectations of London’s young men

Fresh from the Royal College of Art MA Fashion show, Bianca Saunders is exhibiting her multimedia project that puts black masculinity under the microscope.

Alongside the works of London’s best up-and-coming creative minds, Personal Politics will be displayed at Ace Hotel June 15. Inspired by the findings of her MA fashion research, Saunders’ project will unpack the complicated relationship gender and race – something she considers “deeply important”.

“With all the people we’ve spoken to there was an explicit link between slight nuances of perceived femininity, like maybe like a gold earring and reactions from their friends saying: “You’re gay,” she explained.

“It’s really weird how masculinity gets entwined with sexuality that is why the guys in my collection look vulnerable. They’re almost scared to talk about it ‘incorrectly’. That’s why I called the project Personal Politics because it was all these silent conversations you’re having through style and behaviour”

The marriage of mediums paints a much fuller picture than her fashion show. Her exhibition includes a look at the collection shot by rising star Adama Jalloh, a research film entitled Permission in collaboration with Akinola Davies JR (Crack Stevens), and a zine containing poetry by Seye Isikalu and Dazed 100 alumni Caleb Femi and James Massiah.

Her take on the sartorial choices of West Indian men is set against an urban backdrop of high-rises and supermarket car parks. She aptly contrasts the streetwear with heavy blush to illustrate the poems like ‘God save the gully’, in her zine. Abondance Matanda’s words ask for deliverance from ‘misdirected testosterone of young black men in her community, and echo the intimate conversations displayed in Davies Jr’s short. 

The event and the after party are taking place at Miranda, Ace Hotel from 7pm until 3am, more information can be found here.