As the only Haitian-Italian designer working in Milan right now, as well as one of the extremely few black designers in the high fashion game, Stella Jean took it upon herself to show off the importance of culture and multi-culturalism on her runway. Her Fall 2019 show was all about different cultures—her Haitian and Italian backgrounds, the Europeans that buy her clothes, and the African legacy in her identity. What resulted was a mish-mash of clashing prints, diverse silhouettes, and a variety of proportions—some forgiving, some not so much. It was clear that her point this season was that beauty is not and cannot be defined by one culture alone. And in fact, the most beautiful in this world is the collision of different cultures and identities, sparking new aesthetics both in fashion and outside of it. Here, this sort of beauty came with the wildly graphic suits, offset by different colored or printed pieces worn underneath. Clashing top-and-skirt ensembles raised awareness of what such fearlessness can lead to. Unfortunately for Ms. Jean, this show was one of those times when the narrative was much stronger than the actual collection. With such an important message, it’s sad how juvenile the clothes look. Some prints even looked like they were drawn on by toddlers, and for Stella Jean’s sophisticated clientele, we’re not entirely sure they’ll appreciate that. The finale—a parade of white t-shirts with draped plaid skirts—seemed like a half-assed attempt for a viral social media moment. It didn’t go viral, as expected, and if Jean wants to reach a whole new audience, this isn’t the way to do it. In the coming seasons, she’s going to have to step it up!
Photo: Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com