Just five minutes with Susan Rockefeller, the woman behind the creation of the Enlightened Uniform, will leave you reinvigorated about the power within you to create a positive mark on the world. A documentary-filmmaker, conservationist, artist and activist who uses storytelling to raise awareness, Susan is a dear friend within our community. Here she shares her pandemic-inspired jumpsuit’s backstory...
Susan Rockefeller wearing the Enlightened Uniform in New York City
As they say, ‘It all begins with a story’. How did this collaboration come about?
I’ve always been an advocate for sustainability in fashion and so naturally I befriended Christina Dean years ago. We’ve always grabbed the chance to meet, wherever our respective travels took us, from London, Hong Kong, Shanghai to one of my favourite spots in the world, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Maine, a historic botanical garden with a vision to cultivate beautiful and essential interconnections between humanity and the natural world.
It was here that the seeds of this jumpsuit idea were sown as we wandered through this preserve, which promotes ecological health of all lands, with Christina’s precious daughter, Naomi that we both stumbled on our love of jumpsuits!
Susan Rockefeller with The R Collective founder, Christina Dean, and daughter Naomi in Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden garden in Maine
Later we met in Shanghai and, set against more of an urban jungle, my concept of a classic, timeless upcycled jumpsuit for modern women - the type who seeks a well-curated and seasonless wardrobe of classics that takes her from day to night and alongside her travels - became a reality.
But like all stories, there were twists and turns!
Soon after the first prototypes were on my doorstep in New York, Covid-19 erupted and so I adapted my jumpsuit brief to integrate protective functions, like the removable face cover and cosy hood. I then added my North-Star-inspired-cluster of upcycled Swarovski crystals, positioned behind your neck as a constant reminder to guide us safely, whether outwardly on our day-to-day activities or inwardly as we seek to grow inwardly. And so, what we were left with is a perfect example of a versatile, luxurious jumpsuit that supports and protects us.
How has Covid-19 changed you and your closet?
My motto right now is to simply “Do less harm”. If anything, 2020 has been a global wake-up call about how interconnected our ecosystem is. We are all rapidly changing and supporting each other to bring our respective strengths together.
During this uncertain time, where we often don’t clearly know where we will be tomorrow or what we might need, we need a closet that is versatile, hard working and meaningful. So my post Covid-19 closet is, like many of ours, becoming more reflective of a ‘less is more mentality’.
How does the Enlightened Uniform fit within your wardrobe?
My upcycled jumpsuit is versatile, luxurious and comfortable and so to me this is an enlightened uniform for our pandemic and post pandemic. I believe that most women get to a point in their lives when they seek simplicity, ease, comfort, whilst keeping an added element of sexiniess!
This pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon and so this is a great solid uniform for now and the future. So, as we step out into this new world, however we style this cosy jumpsuit from day to night, we are reminded to look for faith and hope in this challenging time.
What do you think the future of our closets will look like?
It’s really time now when we need to think strategically about what we have to buy, how these pieces are made and what their impacts are on the environment. On a deeper level, and in the spirit of protecting what is precious, I believe we can unite our passion for a safer, greener, cleaner and more loving planet for all with our closets.