Rome-based designer Stella Jeanâ€™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. â€œIâ€™m half-Italian and half-Haitian. And the need to conciliate my two opposite identities and roots motivated me to start,â€ says Jean.
As for her creations: think East African prints that enliven 1950s silhouettes and offbeat detailsâ€”such as denim shirts paired with bold turbans for women and pocket squares and pens for menâ€”enriching tailored preppy classics. Her Fall 2013/2014 womenswear line was a critical and commercial success, which is in direct correlation to both Jeanâ€™s professional and personal motto: â€œThe only insurmountable frontiers are those of the mind.â€ 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.
Â 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. â€œI wanted to create through my personal story lens a new and unexpected cultural mixture,â€ says Jean, â€œwhile keeping the ability to balance content and shapes.â€ Thus, she embarked on a journey that led to her garnering a strong finish in Vogue Italiaâ€™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.
Â A Few Friends
Jeanâ€™s seemingly meteoric rise was helped by her stellar designs catching the eye of some of the industryâ€™s leading international fashion tastemakers, such as street style star Taylor Tomasi-Hill, socialite and Vogue contributor Lauren Santo Domingo and Parisian expat Laure HÃ©riard 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 yearâ€™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. â€œI drew inspiration from the capacity to blend and juxtapose traditions that are distant, like pre-Columbian and Mongolian civilizations or BurkinabÃ¨, Italian, and Cuban cultures.â€
The XY Factor
Always up for a challenge, Jean entered the menâ€™s arena with her Spring 2014 menâ€™s collection, resplendent in tribal patterns, magnificent floral and fauna combos, all the while complementing the collectionâ€™s dandyish well-cut blazers, Anglo-inspired trenches and narrow cropped trousers. Jeanâ€™s cultivated pattern mÃ©langes provided the sartorial menswear classics with a young, cool edge.