Words by Maria Manuela • Photography by Christopher Michael • Designer/Creative Direction by R’Bonney Nola • Jewelry by Anuka Jewelry • Modeling by Angeer Amol & Elizabeth
R’Bonney Nola is the kind of fashion designer who makes 2019 feel like the future.
The garments she makes are ahead of the curve. Her gowns are bold and feminine, bohemian and black tie all at once. Some feature sheer panels and flowing organza ruffles that fall like petals around the wearer; others incorporate chic shapes and patchwork, making the matriarcal art seem fresh. Her particular blend of classic lines with bold colors, along with her attention to shape, feels youthful and ethereal.
Raised in Houston, Texas, R’bonney grew up thrifting with her mother. The two would take their secondhand bounty, deconstruct it, and reconstruct it into something better. This sparked R’Bonney’s interest in sewing and she took classes and watched YouTube videos to master the skill.
The collections on this designer’s website have whimsical names, some that pay homage to powerful feminine figures like Amphitrite—named after Poseidon’s wife, the Greek goddess of the sea. She has three color variations of a flowy mini dress up for purchase, but she’s working on releasing a more extensive collection later this year, which will include dresses and more separates. “I fell in love with making dresses when I first started, they are still my favorite type of garment to make. I love the craft and work that goes into making a full length gown.”
As of right now, R’Bonney creates most of her pieces for women. She invests time balancing textures and embroidering details. Her designs are about helping women find love for themselves. “I aim for someone to feel completely confident in themselves when they put on one of my pieces. Self-love is very important to promote in our society. I want to help people feel good about themselves and how they look.”
The imagery on both R’Bonney’s website and Instagram are enchanting. Her rippling gowns are photographed on beautiful ladies, often in otherworldly scenes like draped silk backdrops, white sand dunes and lush greenhouses. R’Bonney says she finds inspiration on her travels where she absorbs the textiles and colors prevalent in other cultures. She’s also inspired by individuals. “I find inspiration in the personality of a strong, unique, effortless, and free person.”
Aware of the pollutive nature of the fashion industry, R’Bonney is focused on using sustainable methods to create her brand. Her upcoming collection will use only natural and recycled fabrics. You can keep up with her travels on her blog, where she documents her journeys in places like the Philippines where she visited a traditional silk weaving studio. You can also keep up with her on Instagram @rbonneynola_design and if you fall in love, she’s open to doing custom work.