Meet this fashion designer, as she talks about her work and shares her most special place, in images and words.
Stella Jean, who has an Italian father and Haitian mother, loves fashion, a third strand in her genetic makeup. After working as a model, she created her ready-to-wear label in 2011, her mixed heritage unspooling in her designs like a narrative thread. When she was a child, she would listen to her grandmother in Port-au-Prince recount the fable “The Miller, his Son and the Donkey,” which taught her to follow her convictions and ignore critics, to stay true to her identity. Her designs’ cuts are based on Italian tailoring, the fabrics, on Haiti’s African roots. Most of her textiles are made in Mali and Burkina Faso by artisans organized into companies, ensuring talents are preserved. She doesn’t believe in being condescending or giving free handouts. The environment is a concern and she has the ear of the international authorities. Her cuts give free rein to the rich colors of the fabrics. She is inspired by games, journeys and discoveries, as well as by the unexpected and by things people tell her. Not knowing how to draw, Stella pins the fabrics on herself and talks about clothing as if it were a treasure filled with history. Spotted by Giorgio Armani, she presented her collection in his Teatro Armani, in 2013, then in 2014, exhibited at the V&A Museum in London. One of her dreams has come true: people like her creations and are receptive to her multiculturalism, which is a strength. And the others? She is too superstitious to mention them!
“The place where I feel most at home . . . is Rome. It’s my home, even though I’ve moved around a lot and have always loved traveling. This city is experiencing major difficulties, but its beauty transcends everything. It contains the best of every period in art and architecture, from Roman remains to the 15th-century and Baroque periods. Everything is exceptional, extraordinary, and you have to remind yourself what a privilege it is to live there. I love the unique golden light, which washes over and coats the bridges, vegetation and stonework. My favorite light: on the banks of the Tiber at 7pm, when the setting sun catches and wraps itself around the San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini basilica (below). Rome wears the fragrance of the returning past, like the one that emerges after the rain and only lasts for half an hour. A fleeting blend of stone and plant aromas.”
© Eugenio D’Oro - Chris Milo - Stella Jean