Stella Jean thrives with multi-cultural fashion
In four years, Stella Jean has made a name for herself in the fashion world with her premium women's ready-to-wear line, distinctive for its vibrant colours and smart blends of African-style prints, which is enjoying a runaway success.
The Italian-Haitian designer's line is now distributed in some 240 multi-brand stores, and she is keen to step on the gas, having recently signed a 10-year licence agreement with Italian manufacturer Sinv.
"Stella Jean is a highly creative designer, with a distinctive identity and an eco-sustainable approach. We think she has huge potential," said Piero Persi, General Manager of Sinv, in a conversation with Fashion Network. The group is a licensed manufacturer for Love Moschino and Dirk Bikkembergs, and owns women's ready-to-wear label Piazza Sempione and menswear and accessories brand Luca Roda.
"Starting with the Autumn/Winter 2017-18 season, we will develop and produce the Stella Jean women's collection, which will show in Milan next February. For the occasion we are also planning to launch an e-commerce site specific for the brand," he added.
Previously, Stella Jean's womenswear and children's line were produced by Italian manufacturer Camac. For the time being, the label is unwilling to make a statement regarding the junior line's future. As for the men's collection, which was launched in 2013 at Pitti Uomo, it has now been shelved.
Stella Jean launched her own label in 2011, in the wake of her victory in the young designer competition at Who’s on Next. She established her company in Rome, where she lives, and her showroom in Milan, where she shows since 2012. "I started out as a model, but my wish was to to create fashion and, especially, to communicate through fashion, which allows me to broadcast my multi-cultural message," she stated to FashionNetwork.com.
Stella Jean, 36, was born in Rome, while her father hails from Turin and her mother from Haiti. She is a self-taught designer, always keen to adopt traditional craftsmanship techniques from around the world, with a strong multi-cultural approach. "I take exception to the wholesale uniformity imposed on us by the major groups, which push us to adopt a bulimic attitude. These groups step into developing countries chiefly to exploit cheap labour," she explained.
"I work in a wholly different manner. I go to these countries to become acquainted with their artisan techniques and special skills in working textiles, in order to adopt them in my collections and make their creative talent known. If we do not manage to preserve such ancestral techniques, they are doomed to vanish," said the designer, who for example has given a new lease of life to traditional African wax-printed cotton fabrics, making them her hallmark.
Stella Jean steers clear of folk or ethnic fashion, but skilfully blends her 'couture-to-wear' with artisanal techniques and luxurious fabrics from the four corners of the world, such as the broad-striped canvas hand-woven by Burkina Faso women, part of the 'Ethical Fashion' project promoted by the UN.
In the coming season, the designer will also feature in two collaborations. One with Benetton, offering her own take on knitwear via a women's mini-collection, on sale from December. It will be Benetton's very first collaboration with an outside designer.
The other is with the Max Mara group's plus-size brand Marina Rinaldi. For the latter, Stella Jean has devised 10 looks which will be on sale in mid-December, combining a Caribbean bop mood with Mediterranean style.
Stella Jean currently employs a staff of fifteen and generates a revenue of €4.5 million. Her collections are manufactured in Italy, except for a few pieces produced in Haiti or Africa, and are chiefly distributed in Europe - in Italy, the UK and France - as well as in Japan, China, Russia, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa.
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