‘It’s human nature to evolve, morph and change. And to change, you need to have an influence,’ explains the Fashion Design with Marketing graduate Dylan Mekhí Etienne-Ramsay, whose final collection An Ode to Memory is an exploration of his identity through the inseparable relationship and experiences with community surrounding him.
Reflecting upon his own heritage and upbringing, the Jamaican and Haitian designer was interested in the commonalities found on family archive photos. ‘I like this idea of familiarity to clothing but if you look into it, it’s actually disruptive,’ he says. While the main inspiration came from the way Western clothing influenced Caribbean culture, the design references came from the streets.
Sat in a busy corner in New York, where the former intern at Telfar and The Row is currently based, Etienne-Ramsay was observing and documenting different archetypes that people were wearing and started thinking of a way that they could be pushed into a different direction and a different era. The result is a meld of the South and the West, the past and the present, and menswear tailoring and street style flair.
The handwoven offcut leather is Etienne-Ramsay’s own interpretation of the traditional Jamaican net and Haitian macrame while the hand-dyed dégradé jersey is a reference to a painting of Haiti created by his grandfather. The oversized and draped silhouettes make the collection entirely unisex and the numerous layers of each look make the clothes multifunctional; allowing the wearer to combine and style Etienne-Ramsay’s pieces in a way true to themselves. His designs are malleable and open-ended, as he explains: ‘My work is only 50% done once I complete it. It reaches its full potential once it interacts with the wearer and they infuse their own personality into it.’
Adam Urbanik, BA Fashion Journalism