E pluribus unum. Out of one, many. I was surprised to find the Latin motto, well known from the United States seal as the title of the collection notes for Italian designer, Stella Jean’s menswear Fall Winter 2016 – 2017 collection. However, upon second thought it is completely fitting. Exploring the concept of cultural hybridity as she does with this collection is nothing new to the designer. Born in Rome, Italy, of Italian and Haitian descent, Jean’s collections often display the duality of her mixed race upbringing. Bold Creole influenced prints meeting fine Italian tailoring.
I’ve been a fan of the brand for many seasons now, first falling in love with the Spring 2012 collection and have been lucky enough to have attended two of her fashion week shows. With this collection, Jean tackles what she considers the new “3.0 society” and the unpredictability of cultural weaving.
A conversion in favor of a much more intricate concept, unbelievable result of many intersections: it is an “identity-crossroads” in which the thorny issue of membership can no longer be trivially ghettoed to simple physiognomy, but must be bound to the spaces where one grew up and “socialized”, starting from those scattered places that have marked the biography of us all. Therefore, diversity becomes a necessary function of social evolution in the prospect of a new, kaleidoscopic and forward-looking cultural richness.
Stella Jean uses classic shirts with Korean collars, Ndebele South African motifs, mixed with well known Italian sartorialism to display this in beautifully tailored, vibrant, wearable garments. Exploring every facet of this theme, even Stella Jean’s models are “hybrids.” Have you seen the National Geographic photo spread on the Changing Face of America? If not, be sure to check out this beautiful photo gallery. Stella Jean’s collections bring the notion of our E pluribus unum to garment form. The coat of arms of Jamaica also bears this motto in English. Quite honestly, the idea of the homogenous nation, is fading out. Colonization patterns that created this “hybridity” before are now giving way to immigration patterns that create these new norms. As Stella Jean’s collection notes mention, “The idea of a ‘pure’ identity, free from melting shades, is openly boycotted as well as the absolute predictive presumption of most supporting an absolute correlation between certain physical features and their geographical origin.” I would love to see an editorial with some of these models in her creations!