By Laura Holloway
Brundidge, Ala. has a population of 2,036, and yet there’s something about this small Alabama town that inspires greatness: two professional football players, a former Oklahoma governor, a founder of a national fraternity, and in recent years, a new power player in fashion. Even though Brundidge is far from the runways of New York and Paris, Stephanie Carter found inspiration from her Southern roots to create a collection of unique fashion pieces that find their place in closets around the country. Today, the labels Jacque + Janis, Judith March, Missy Robertson and Deja Vu assure the wearer comfort, fashion and the freedom to choose originality in their everyday wardrobes. The Deja Vu store in Seaside always draws a crowd, and for good reason: every woman wants to feel beautiful, and the clothing inside delivers.
Carter’s designs found their origins in college, more specifically in the task of a class project. The coveted ‘game day’ look quickly gained in popularity, and before long, she was selling her designs at sorority houses and country clubs. While Carter did start modeling in high school, she quickly found her interest was more focused on the design and business aspects of the fashion industry, and her knack for memorable pieces put her on the fast track to retail success. After sell-outs at the West Indies Market in Rosemary Beach, she was encouraged to open a storefront, which she did in Seacrest. A store in Pier Park soon followed, and then in March of 2009, Deja Vu opened its doors in Seaside. More Deja Vu stores came in the following years, in Key West and Fairhope, Ala.
The success of the Deja Vu clothing line inspired the Judith March collection, which combines “Southern class with [a] West Coast bohemian vibe, distinguished by its one-of-a-kind prints and classic, easy-fit bodies.” Many of the pieces pay homage to Southern pride, with sayings of “Sweet Home Florida,” or even just turning classic college football logos into feminine, attractive designs for game day clothing.
The overwhelming positive response to these collections, along with the unique quality of Carter’s designs, which expertly mixes classy with flirtation, attracted Missy Robertson of Duck Dynasty, who contacted Carter to discuss partnering on a clothing line. The Missy Robertson collection was born of this union, combining Carter’s keen eye for popular Southern fashion with Robertson’s desire to take the line to a more mature crowd, including a longer hemline in the designs.
The Jacque + Janis collection followed suit, “with intricate details, innovative compositions and a down-to-earth vibe.” The line pays homage to the fashion icons who came before, creating an unusual partnership between the 1960’s rocker (see: Janis Joplin) and the classic look of the Jacque O’s of the generation.
“I believe in fashion there are no rules anymore,” Carter says. And her words are reflected on the feeling you have wearing a design from her shop. The Deja Vu store in Seaside is a favorite for both visitors to Seaside and the locals of 30A. Carter attributes her collections in part to advice from her mother, who told her, “You should dress how you feel ... what’s most important, you wear what makes you feel confident that day.”