Stella Jean's prints have taken us to more global destinations than those visited by voyager Nellie Bly — since the Roman-Haitian designer was cherry-picked by Giorgio Armani to show at his theater in 2013.
Like brands such as Pucci and Etro that have come before her, Jean is presented every season with the challenge to update her patterns, known for their hot ethnic spice.
The 35-year-old designer indeed has a knack for evolving her prints and making every theme stand out from the last. "The trick is to change the theme every time and of course the silhouettes," she told NOWFASHION backstage. "We started out with Africa and in this collection, there aren't any African references. There is an evolution in terms of genre and volumes and there is much more of a masculine aspect that I think really highlights the underlying sense of femininity," she added.
A Himalayan-barbershop-meets-Savile-Row-tailoring motif set the tone for the array this fall winter season. Boyish glen check wool and neoprene coats were accented with Maharajah-inspired embroidery and electric tassels. Buoyant, embroidered silk and wool skirts that expanded like the flying buttresses typical in Gothic architecture infused the collection with a playful, nonchalant edge.
"The themes were played out in a kitsch way in order to render the collection credible and to balance out the classic," Jean added.
Through Jean's work with the United Nation's International Trade Center's Ethical Fashion Initiative, she again employed artisans from around the world to take part in her collection — metal bracelets were hammered by craftsmen in Haiti, fabrics were made at the hand of seamstresses in Burkina Faso and Mali and leather bags were made in part by tanneries in Ethiopia.
Since her debut on the international stage, Jean's designs have been all the rage among fashion's top designers, but her vision and her work with the Ethical Fashion Initiative has catapulted her onto the podium of the United Nations, showing that her vision transcends beyond Italy's catwalk and her voice resonates further afield than the fashion world.