On Tuesday November 2, The Fashion Institute of Technology presented the designer Stella Jean to speak on her fashion design philosophy, meteoric rise in the fashion industry and her Ethical Fashion Initiative. Seems this beautiful model turned fashion designer has much more on her mind than being the next 'hot' designer. Born in Rome of an Italian father and Haitian mother she spoke of the challenges growing up in a 'homogenized' ethnicity such as Italy. She also mentioned how the status quo since her childhood hasn't changed much, as her children now encounter the same challenge. That is being racially different but none the less an Italian citizen with Italian cultural heritage.
Her unique style is a combination of exceptional Italian tailoring with a relaxed aristocratic ring to it. That is juxtapositioned with her absolute allegiance to her Haitian and African heritage; ethnic patterns and primitive prints of exceptional color. No wonder we love her. The blend is as beautiful and diverse as she is herself. The way in which Stella pits pattern against pattern and then umbrellas it with cool Italian restraint is brava. Those fabrics represent more than color and boldness on the fashion runway. They represent Stella's collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a goal to bring light, recognition and preservation to the traditional methods of textile development in underdeveloped but artistically rich countries. She has traveled from West Africa to Haiti developing fabrications and working alongside the artisans. Her commitment for acceptance is contagious. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to meet her and her incredible journey layered with many messages... just like her outfits.