Mix & Match – Courtney Mitchell x PKNE
Who are you?
How to define you when you are the representation of multiculturalism?
Which label will be assigned to you by the society?
As a person from a migrant family, the identity issues are deeply present. The questions can be infinite. As our society needs to put a tag on people, for those kind of individuals – torn between different cultural influences – it’s often hard to define themselves because of their multiple layers. When you’re a child and you live among people who have a more clear socialization, you might think that you are the one who is abnormal. Of course, when the color of your skin is also different, the distinction can go further because of this obvious difference. I don’t want to talk about racism here but more about integration obstacles and also about the pressing need to categorize. When you’ve been raised in this type of context, defining your place within society is always harder. Indeed, it’s complicated because you cannot fit properly into the label system. Besides this society pressure, you can sometimes feel apart because you might not have exactly the same references than others. It’s clear, as a member of a society, you have been influenced by the culture, the norms, the values. Nevertheless, additional reference set has been given by your family during the socialization process. Your first socialization made in the family context is the most important in self-structure mechanism. Thus, when the second one appears in the scholar context, it is going to be juxtaposed to the first one. In brief, you’ll adapt this new set of references to the first one. We know that socialization depends on many features of the social class. You’ll not have the same habits or postures according your social background whether you’re from a wealthy or modest family. Those elements are going to separate us but you’ll be member of a bigger sub-group. The labelling method is going to work in this type of position. This is not the case with the multiculturalism effect. The social mechanisms are disrupted.
So you might think right know that this phenomenon is so far from fashion. But it’s not. In our times of trouble and indecision, identity became a priority. This social obsession is spreading in every aspect of our lives. We can’t avoid it. Thus, designers have also their stories to tell, and sometimes integration and multiculturalism are the right terms to define their work influences. So this Mix & Match is about this issue faced also in the fashion and musical world. When you take a careful look on artists’ background you can find their main inspirations sources. This self game faced by them might be exhausted because they have to play on various fields at the same time. They have been influenced by outside-family social interactions and also they are self based on their own identification. Fashion & Art can help this auto-identification. Making art can be an efficient way to build your own identity on yourself.
Fashion – Courtney Anne Mitchell
Courtney is a talented designer graduated from Central Saint Martins. The looks used for this video come from her graduated collection. Here is how she explains her creations:
“I think that my collection was quite nostalgic as it was specifically inspired by my Grandmother and a generation of people she belongs to. It has this mixture of identities, sort of trying to assimilate into ‘Britishness, whilst remaining very Caribbean and having influences from the home that has been left behind. For my show I used British/Jamaican old school dancehall as it reflected that message – the mixture of Cockney (London slang) and Patois (Jamaican dialect)”
Music – PKNE (Penda Gueye)
She created this song especially for this project. Penda is an artist based in France. Learning how to do music by herself, here is how she explains her universe in general:
“Music has always been a part of me, I was raised by African music, R’n’B, Hip-Hop, electro…. I started to make music two years, it took me a lot to try, I wasn’t really confident about myself and of course did not know anything about composing music, but the desire was so strong, I tried. I learned all by myself, I’m an autodidact, I think that music is kind of mystical. When you decided to join her, she embraces you with love and tenderness. I actually decided to live in Africa (Dakar) to learn more about myself, so it can reflect on my music »
This association is about integration and multiple identities. The designer and the musician came from two different countries, however they both have an heritage given by their family. Juxtaposed to this first socialization, they also deal with another culture given by their country of birth. Tackled to this multiple identities, their self would be shaped by the environment, the interactions. Therefore, to verbalize this duality, we choose to shoot in two areas geographically close but different, East Dulwich and Peckham. A garden made the transition between the two neighborhoods. In these two areas, the character is using different part of her self. She evolved at the same time in a traditional British neighborhood but not only. Indeed, in Peckham she deals with Caribbean’s influences because of the cosmopolitan aspect of this area. She can reconnect with her roots given by her parents while being impacted by her motherland’s culture. The communication between her various “self” allows her to be integrated in different environments where specific behaviors are going to take place. This necessity to juggle with all these identities can be explained by the labeling need which is present in our society. It is hard to put a tag on a person shaped by multiple influences. Thus, to fit into this social system, using different self allows the interaction process with the others to take place. In this video, the character goes beyond her own personality to share with us the different layers of her identity and how she managed to be in harmony with her environment. Throughout her clothes she expresses her various identities.