With her kaleidoscopic clashing prints and exaggerated silhouettes – either unashamedly ladylike or tomboyish and mannish – Stella Jean is one of Milan Fashion Week’s hottest tickets and the go-to for the likes of Rihanna and Beyonce. We talk to the Italo-Haitian designer ahead of her new season show...
ON HOW IT ALL BEGAN...
At the beginning I wanted to pursue a diplomat career, then, thanks to fashion, I found a way to offer my point of view together with my own expressive language. I started modeling in Rome thanks to my mother’s friend Egon von Fürstenberg [aristocratic Italian designer and former husband of Diane] but I quickly realised that my real vocation was being a creative; a designer. I don’t regret my past as a model because it helped make me who I am today. I decided to start designing my own label in 2009 and, after being rejected twice, I finally won the Who is On Next? Contest; an international scouting project promoted by Vogue Italia and Altaroma.
ON HER DREAMS AS A DESIGNER
My dream is that fashion is used as a cultural translator, re-establishing the proportion between symbols, stories and different worlds through style. If we can mix the most distant and different cultures of the world in an outfit and the result is good, we can embrace this juxtaposition of cultures in real life. Design and aesthetics must be used as a means and not an end, taking advantage of their abilities as powerful communication tools. Fashion should not just be used to make beautiful things.
ON HER PERSONAL STYLE
My personal style is a counter-coloniser métissage. Fashion is my communications vehicle. Everything is moved by a basic concept that in my case is expressed in wanting to reconcile worlds so near and far. A fundamental starting point supported by the need to convey, through my work, a new concept of multiculturalism.
ON HER INTEREST IN OTHER CULTURES
It comes from being the union of opposing cultures. My own story, my roots and background have always inspired and influenced my work. When I studied myself it opened my vision, my eyes, and my curiosity to all other cultures.
ON HER MUSE
My muses, the realities that have always touched the strings of my artistic and human sensibility from which I let myself be inspired today, can be traced in the common stories of extraordinary women. In my life I have always been most inspired by the oppressed, the slaves and the prisoners rather than the queens and princesses.
ON THE KIND OF WOMAN WHO BUYS HER PIECES
A woman who would not want to be locked up in the definitions that I could give you with this answer!
ON WHAT ITALIAN FASHION MEANS TO HER
Assurance, heritage, newness.
ON WHAT’S INSPIRING HER NEXT SEASON
I'm sorry, but I cannot share! I am very superstitious... I prefer to talk about something that I've already done... Facta, non verba! It is time for deeds, not words!
What I love to do more in Milan is work or go and discover new exhibitions. My favourite hangout is the Mercato Metropolitano and my favourite neighbourhood is Navigli.