We have admired Stella Jean’s work a very long time. Imagine how thrilled we were when she agreed to answer our questions about her collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative and her work in Haiti!? Yes, very thrilled. Thank you to Stella Jean for taking the time to answer our questions and for continuing to bring a positive light to our Haiti.
P/S Now we have to find our way to Italy to visit Il Giardino degli Aranci!
What does Fashion mean to you?
Being part of a multiracial family in Italy in the Eighties shaped me as a person and inspired my professional path that has been neither simple nor painless. But fashion gave me ample space to manoeuver and find a place where both of these cultures could coexist. This weak point became both a strength and a fresh start. So, fashion is my way to communicate through clothes a concept of opposite worlds and traditions fusing together in a sophisticated way and standing side by side with equal importance, not covering the other up. For me it’s essential to remain faithful to the basic concept that, in my case, is expressed in wanting to reconcile worlds so near and far. A fundamental starting point is supported by the need to convey, through my work, a new concept of multiculturalism.
Tell us about the woman wearing Stella Jean.
An independent, enterprising and a frequent flyer in the spirit person who is constantly evolving. People attracted from my collections are curious, inclined to learn and, more importantly, to understand. But they need to recognize and to “live” a dress, without disguising. I like to propose them elements of their own culture, fielding a new philosophy of métissage that allows travelling to anywhere, without forgetting their point of departure.
Can you please tell us about the slogan “wax and stripes philosophy”?
My personal story, my roots and background that I decided to materialize mixing a shirt of my father, to symbolize the European roots, with wax fabrics representing the African roots of Haiti, the native island of my mother, the first independent black republic in the world. When I combined these two elements together and I finally had my “Wax & Stripes Philosohpy” in which the African wax textiles refer to the Haitian roots of my mother and the masculine stripes to my Italian father. Telling a true story, totally authentic, for the first time, has been my strength.
How did the collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative start?
It started thanks to my mentor Simonetta Gianfelici who introduced me to Simone Cipriani, (the UN official in charge for the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative). He gave me the chance to discover a treasure trove of unparalleled craftsmanship and the opportunity to go to Burkina Faso. There I met extraordinary women who take care of everything in their villages and have the unique ability to weave by hand. Thanks to these women I discovered the fabrics I often use in my creations. And I think that I would not have achieved the results I achieved if not through this direct contact, a meeting of human beings.
The fashion industry is very fast moving, don’t you think this could be a conflict with a ethical approach
No, I don’t think it at all. Indeed, today all the big brands are now taking a step back devoting at least a part of their production to a more conscious and ethical section.
Your collection is always very colorful and a lot of patterns, are the african patterns creations by your own?
The patterns I use are not from Africa, but they symbolize Africa. In part, they are my own creations.
For whom would you like to create a Stella Jean design?
For the inspiring Benedicta Nanyonga, Executive Director at Kinawataka Women Initiatives “From Trash to Cash”, I have the chance to meet on the occasion of the The Power of Empowered Women 2014 event at the United Nations in Geneva.
You have interesting roots, what is a typically Italian and what is a typically haitian characteristic of you?
Peaks of humor are my strong characteristics: as I can get excited a lot, even when I get down I do it intensely. And this is an aspect that embraces both my Italian and Haitian origins.
You are living in Rome, which are your favorites places, Restaurants or Boutiques?
I’m totally in love with Il Giardino degli Aranci, I enjoy having dinner at La Villa restaurant and I suggest you to have a look at Lucia Odesacalchi’s jewellery.