If you’ve followed my blog for a few years, you may know that one of my favorite designers is Stella Jean. I came across the brand many years ago, I think through Vogue Talents while I was looking up young, fresh, Italian design talent. This was before Beyoncé and Rihanna wore her pieces. Stella Jean’s designs, and who she was a person, Afro-Italian, Afro-Carribbean- Italian, stopped me in my tracks. Stella Jeans mom is Haitian and her collection then (and now) celebrated the duality of that Haitian-Roman identity in a burst of colors and patterns. I filled Pinterest pages, wish lists and mood boards with her designs. Referenced her collection to anyone that would listen. Seeing my first show of hers at the Armani/Teatro space in 2014, solidified my fanaticism. While styling in Italy for Tamu McPherson’s All the Pretty Birds, I got the opportunity to pull Stella Jean for one of my favorite looks!
That’s Stella Jean’s motto. Her work highlights and empowers diasporas of women around the world. Including them in globalization and economic trade, giving them agency to showcase their artistry and earn an income from this. She doesn’t just pull inspiration from other cultures but involve them in the creation of beautiful garments often working with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. Considering all of this, when I was asked by All the Pretty Birds to be photographed for a showcase of Digital Creatives of Color in Italy and to attend the event with Camera della Moda, I knew exactly who I wanted to wear. The package didn’t make it in Rome in time for the shoot but made it in time for the event and some weekend shooting!
I pulled mainly from the Spring 2020 collection which highlighted the artistry of the Kalash women in Chitral region of Pakistan. There are only 3,000 people in these remote valleys and Stella Jean collaborated Chitral Women’s Handicrafts Center, founded by the 22-year-old Karishma Ali on the fabric for this collection — incorporating the over 4,000 metres of fabric in her designs for the collection. This provides economic opportunity and brings awareness to a community that is dying out. This is the first time the embroideries have left the region.