By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
The names are iconic: Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Pucci…but for us, Haitian born designer Stella Jean was the true star of Milan’s Fashion Week. Not just for her lively colours, artistic motifs and clever way of mixing textures and patterns, but for her ethics, too.
This season, Stella collaborated with the Ethical Fashion Initiative to produce luxury handicrafts under ethical and fair conditions with artisans in both Africa and Haiti, thus making her Spring/Summer 2015 collection the perfect métissage of her land of origin with other countries she visited such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Italy.
This season, she says she was mainly inspired by her recent trip to Haiti with the Ethical Fashion Initiative Team, where she met and worked with metalsmiths, papier-mâché and horn artisans to produce jewellery for her new Stella Jean Spring Summer 2015 collection and to help bring about female empowerment and poverty reduction by employing women artisans to help her realise her artistic vision.
Stella Jean’s style blends her creole heritage with old continent cultures and the verve of the new continent, marrying the opposites in a femininity well aware of its precious uniqueness. The urban look gets a bit Caribbean through a cosmopolitan innuendo of bright shades, through the lines of Italian haute couture craftsmanship.
Jean’s signature Wax & Stripes Philosophy reflects a mood reminiscent of her own multicultural personal journey. Wax tributes her maternal roots, Haiti, the first independent black republic in the world, drawing its history in part from West Africa.
The Stripes present on shirts, symbolise her father, who is from Turin. Hence, the Wax & Stripes Philosophy glorifies the culture of encounter between cultures that never negotiate their own membership, but would rather intertwine constructively. This is an emblem of how fashion can be used as a cultural translator and even as a message against interracial conflicts.
Stella Jean will bring her collection to Milan again at Biffi Boutique, in Corso Genova 6, for the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, which links the world’s top fashion talents to marginalised artisans in East and West Africa, Haiti and the West Bank. We’re certainly looking forward to that!
See the full show here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIag-p25iOU
All images: Stella Jean