Rome-based designer Stella Jean’s namesake clothing line creates styles that not only boast eclectic prints, but also clash cultures. Her collections exhibit a fusion of her Caribbean heritage married with the detailed craftsmanship of her Italian homeland. “I’m half-Italian and half-Haitian. And the need to conciliate my two opposite identities and roots motivated me to start,” says Jean.
As for her creations: think East African prints that enliven 1950s silhouettes and offbeat details—such as denim shirts paired with bold turbans for women and pocket squares and pens for men—enriching tailored preppy classics. Her Fall 2013/2014 womenswear line was a critical and commercial success, which is in direct correlation to both Jean’s professional and personal motto: “The only insurmountable frontiers are those of the mind.” And she may be right: legendary designer Giorgio Armani has tapped Jean to present her Spring/Summer 2014 collection at the Armani Teatro in Milan, making her the first womenswear designer to do so.
Language & Labor
As a model, Jean, 34, became bored and frustrated with the industry and permanently left the runway in 2010. She decided that she wanted to express her own unique fashion dialect. “I wanted to create through my personal story lens a new and unexpected cultural mixture,” says Jean, “while keeping the ability to balance content and shapes.” Thus, she embarked on a journey that led to her garnering a strong finish in Vogue Italia’s prestigious Who Is On Next fashion competition in 2011, and then to her presenting her debut collection in fall 2012 during Milan Fashion Week.
A Few Friends
Jean’s seemingly meteoric rise was helped by her stellar designs catching the eye of some of the industry’s leading international fashion tastemakers, such as street style star Taylor Tomasi-Hill, socialite and Vogue contributor Lauren Santo Domingo and Parisian expat Laure Hériard Dubreuil, to name a wellheeled few. High-end retailers like The Webster in Miami and Matches in the U.K., as well as global e-commerce site modaoperandi.com (the sponsor of this year’s venerable Met Gala) followed suit and snapped up her inaugural collection.
New -Wave Mixing
For her sophomore Fall 2013 collection and follow-up Resort 2014 collection, the designer was inspired by the opportunity to mix customs and history. “I drew inspiration from the capacity to blend and juxtapose traditions that are distant, like pre-Columbian and Mongolian civilizations or Burkinabè, Italian, and Cuban cultures.”
The XY Factor
Always up for a challenge, Jean entered the men’s arena with her Spring 2014 men’s collection, resplendent in tribal patterns, magnificent floral and fauna combos, all the while complementing the collection’s dandyish well-cut blazers, Anglo-inspired trenches and narrow cropped trousers. Jean’s cultivated pattern mélanges provided the sartorial menswear classics with a young, cool edge.