MFF: Stella Jean
Edition 99
“Men in search of a new identity”
The Italian-Haitian stylist recounts her personal vision of fashion, as the spokeswoman for a multicultural fashion without genre or age-related confines 

“I believe in this moment men’s fashion is going through an intense phase of reflection – a term that here can be understood as both mindset and as a phenomenon of refraction – as well as a representation of present-day times that gives rise to a modernity that is increasingly cancelling out the limitations of genre, while blending into a new identity. A new identity that is reluctant to be filed away into any predefined slot”. These are the words of Stella Jean, an Italian-Haitian stylist who is one of the most acclaimed voices in the new generation of Made in Italy. Propelling her into the limelight was her "Wax & Stripes" collection, with which she won the Who Is On Next? contest, the fashion scouting project devised and developed by Altaroma. It was 2011, and ever since, Stella Jean, who was raised in Rome by a Haitian mother and father from Turin, has filled her fashion collections with prints, stripes, patterns, and bright colors. A multicultural melting pot, but above all a message of democracy from the brand that has made inclusivity one of its main cornerstones. 

What is your vision of fashion?
“It is my habit to focus on the present and on facts that must effectively follow ideas and considerations, with the aim of applying my multicultural experience to fashion. Based on this, fashion in my opinion should be understood not only as an aesthetic landing point, but also as a powerful international megaphone that allows beauty to make a pathway in the viewer. It is a powerful tool that attracts attention, which for me, transforms into a channel of integrationist contamination.

What are your personal considerations for the future?
“Clothes can speak louder and in a more incisive manner than many words, and for this reason, I believe that multiculturality applied to fashion is a gateway to development. Simply reducing a collection or a fashion show to the sum of its clothes, would in part be irresponsible of us. Men’s fashion today is the reflection of all this and it is arriving at a new identity. A new identity that is reluctant to submit to any predefined slot”.

How did your career begin?
“I began as a model, and from the very first time I stepped foot into the atelier of a stylist, I knew that I was in my element. I was in the right place, but in the wrong role. And I changed roles! Thanks to an Italian seamstress, who managed to understand and translate the drapings of fabric that I would fix directly on the machine and myself – since I do not know how to design, so I would model everything directly on the body – I began to experiment with my first fashion collections. Then, one day, I found the “Who Is On Next” application form inviting new talents in fashion to participate in a contest. I sent my application in twice and was rejected twice”. 

Have there been any essential turning points?
“Certainly. After having been rejected, I rolled up my sleeves even more, since I have always been fairly tenacious and have always believed there is no wall that cannot be transformed into a door if you truly believe it’s possible. So, I resent my application to the talent scout for the third time. I decided to recount through my collection what I had always believed up until that point to be my greatest weakness and vulnerability, my story. I accordingly put together from one end wax fabrics, which for me at that time symbolized the black roots of Haiti – the first black Republic in the world, as well as a country that is very proud of its black heritage – and from the other end, the cuts and tailoring of the Italian tradition, taking my inspiration from the typical striped shirts of my father. Thus, I recounted my family though the looks of a multiethnic collection. That collection made the cut, and ever since, my life has changed. My multicultural background, which I always believed to be my Achille’s heel, became my strength and starting point that day. This is the reason why I believe fashion is a powerful tool today for social integration”.