Stella Jean designs bold silhouettes that take up space and make noise in large rooms. Her pieces are artistic creations with so much vision that you can’t help but see pure fashion through her brightly patterned eyes. But these shapes and colors cut from rich textiles tell more than one woman’s sartorial story. They share the traditions of Stella Jean’s entire Italian-Haitian heritage.
“My two worlds live side-by-side in a balance, almost in an embrace,” she said. “And they influence my work.”
Jean cited Italy for its artisanal, historic nature that not only inspires creativity but nurtures a designer’s ideas and turns them into high quality products; she takes inspiration from Haiti and its inherently diverse nation. “The population is comprised of all different backgrounds, from Arawak Indians, Africans from Côte d’Or and people from Spain, England and France,” she said.
In fact, it’s Haiti’s multifaceted combination of individuals and cultures that aligns so perfectly with her credo as a designer: that Stella Jean, the label, is about so much more than aesthetics.
“My first childhood ambition was to pursue a diplomatic career,” Jean said. “Somehow, I think that is a little bit of what I’m able to do through fashion: apply a concept of multiculturalism in a coherent and contemporary way. That’s the basis of my work.”
When asked the obligatory designer-interview question “Who is the Stella Jean woman and what’s most important to her?,” Stella Jean responded with an answer as unique as her clothes:
“Aung San Suu Kyi and Madeleine Albright: women who have marked history and remained attached to their territory — whether voluntarily or by force — who lead their country in deeds, in actions and wore them as flags of pride.
“Stella Jean is for women who are self-confident and do not need other ‘names’ (or labels) beyond themselves; women who remain curious, who maintain elements from family memories, who experiment with audacity and a pinch of irony to make every single look feel personal and unique.”
As for the question no one asks her but she has always wanted to answer, she posed: If you could choose four women, past and present, to lead a government, who would you choose?
“Aung San Suu Kyi (Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), Franca Sozzani (Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism), Madeleine Albright (Minister of Labor and Social Policies) and Nilde Iotti (Minister of Economic Development).”
The dream team, no doubt, dressed in Stella Jean.