It is difficult to find in a so-called ‘emerging’ talent such determination and such well-defined creative vision. Over time, aspirations, intentions and the vision of fashion can change. Profoundly even.
This does not however seem to be the case with Stella Jean. We met her in June, when she debuted with her Homme collection as part of the Pitti Italics programme by the Pitti Discovery Foundation. We were struck by the creative and traditional métissage that made her garments unique, characterised by a cultural syncretism that is finely tuned to contemporaneity. Now, in view of her return with the FW 2014 collection, we decided to take a closer look at her vision of male style.
“Warp and weft hide a matrix of many civilisations, including our own“, Jean tells us, who lives in Rome, while her mother is from Haiti and her father from Turin. “My work takes on international scope in its tendency to communicate with other traditions, starting precisely with the furthest, apparently least reconcilable ones“.
When they ask you to talk about your fashion, including the male version, you often quote the Wax&Stripes Philosophy. What is this?
The “Wax & Stripes Philosophy” is my true style code, a point of equilibrium and at the same time synthesising and going beyond such antipodal cultures. Wax is her maternal roots, Haiti, the world’s first independent black republic, which permeates its history in Western Africa. The Stripes are those on men’s shirts and they symbolise my paternal side, the Turin gentleman. The “Wax & Stripes Philosophy” professes and projects the culture of encounter without ever negotiating its membership, in a mixture that strongly responds to the needs of our times. I have always perceived fashion as a unitary language norm, vehicle of a counter colonisation that, through inverse style and a geographic route, tends to restore equilibrium to different symbols, stories and worlds. An alternation of cultural trompe l’oeil effects that tends to branch out into further unexpected style marriages. An ironic well-balanced mixture that never gives in to parody or caricature.
Homme by Stella Jean in 3 words?
Métissage – dialogue – belonging. I see an idealist dandy, who spends more time observing the world with the desire to reflect it than he does mirroring himself through it.
What will the new runway show be like in Florence?
A runway show calls for the impetus of many minds and an equal number of wills. Revealing its essence in advance would mean undermining a huge amount of teamwork. I will let the audience find out for themselves!
How do you see this return to Pitti? How do you think that Pitti Italics may promote and support new generations of designers?
This return to Pitti is characterised by a relationship of trust, given without expecting any return, that has marked the genesis of ongoing collaboration. Florence has a tradition of patrons of the arts and I think that this inclination to invest in those recognised as potential Italian creative designers has remained and continued to be handed down also thanks to Pitti Immagine. I am proud to be one of the Pitti Italics names, a section that promotes the new Made in Italy. Given the enormous influences from my background and my DNA, I love to highlight the profound link between the legacy of Italian tailoring and an inbred aesthetic inclination, due also to the fact that, in Italy, we are surrounded by beauty.