Queen Of Diversity
Stella Jean lives and works in Rome. Distinguished as one of the winners of the prestigious “Who Is On Next?” competition in Rome, organised by Altaroma in collaboration with Vogue Italy, Stella debuted her first
Stella Jean lives and works in Rome. Distinguished as one of the winners of the prestigious “Who Is On Next?” competition in Rome, organised by Altaroma in collaboration with Vogue Italy, Stella debuted her first menswear collection at Pitti Uomo in 2013, as part of the Pitti Italics project. In September 2013 Stella Jean was chosen by Giorgio Armani to showcase as a guest at the Armani/Teatro space during Milano Moda Donna, and in April 2014 she was selected by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to exhibit several outfits from her SS’14 collection at the “Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014″ exhibition. In 2014 she was also nominated by the Business of Fashion as one of the “People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry in 2014″ in the annually published ranking list “BOF 500″. In 2014 she was also selected by Fashion Bomb Daily as “Designer of the Year”. In January 2015 she showcased her men’s AW’15 collection for the first time during Milano Moda Uomo. We’ve caught up with Stella during her visit in Dubai for Fashion Forward SS17 shows to pick the brain of this fast-evolving designer with an incredibly interesting profile.
What was it about the modelling industry that made you realise that you would rather make clothes than wear them?
I was studying political science and then dropped out to become a model. I started with the support from my mother’s friend Egon von Fürstenberg because I was looking for my independence and it was something easier. Once I came into this world and I discovered all the time that was spent around the creation in the atelier, it was more appealing for me than when you showcase it on the runway. I became attracted to the creation of a collection and the process behind it.
Let’s go back to 2013 when Giorgio Armani selected you to showcase designs in his Teatro space during Milano Moda Donna. How has that opportunity changed and shaped you?
When such a giant gives you an opportunity you feel all the responsibility behind it, but at the same time you feel like something in history is happening. Because in Italy we have the giants of fashion industry and the new emerging talent. We were building a bridge, Mr. Armani built a bridge by giving a helping hand and it was one of the first.
You were nominated by the Business of Fashion as one of the “People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry in 2014″ what goals do you aim to reach in this industry?
Since I am half Italian and half Haitian I am really superstitious. I do not talk before doing something, so I’ll do it and then we can talk again!
After your collaboration with International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative how has your corporate social responsibility changed?
It is not that something is changed, it is something new that I learned with them through all the countries that I discovered with their programmes that helped me a lot. I would have never been to Ethiopia and discovered their leather factories, for example.
Let’s talk about the dress Rihanna wore to the White House and the powerful photos that broke racial and social barriers!
We discovered the morning after when someone called me and told me that Rihanna was at the White House wearing one of my dresses. At the very first moment we thought that it was a look-a-like, that it was someone else and that it was not really her as we did not know anything. After three to four hours we discovered that it was really her and that she just bought the dress. We just didn’t know.
Lastly, what advice do you have for self-taught designers here in the region?
I really appreciate what I have seen until now from the designers in this region. They are showing their roots in a really proud way so my advice would be to keep doing so as I think that is the right path. Also not to be scared or to think that the right way is the mainstream one. No, just go and underline your own identity, actually, diversity will be their strength.