Stella Jean Launches Social Awareness Project Against Racial Discrimination
Stella Jean sets a powerful example for what it looks like to meaningfully champion inclusivity and combat racism.
Jean exemplifies her commitment to inclusivity and acceptance in every part of her life and work: for her the call for justice is not just a trendy slogan. The first recognized black Italian designer, Jean has been an active participant in the fight for racial justice and an international beacon of multiculturalism. The basis of Jean’s design work is multiculturalism applied to fashion, which becomes a tool and a cultural expression for positive, proactive growth and awareness. Her designs draw on her Creole heritage, and she often works closely with Haitian and African artisans to incorporate elements of their design into her work. But she takes this principle farther and puts it on a global scale with her sustainable development platform, “Laboratory of Nations.” Under the initiative, each collection is undertaken in direct collaboration with women artists in a developing nation each season. Thus, women who are generally excluded from the global conversation are building their own economic autonomy, preserving their own traditions, and at the same time gaining a small seat at the global market table. She has also given talks on the intersection of feminism, multiculturalism, and fashion around the world, educating the next generation of leaders.
Now Stella Jean has released a film that addresses this principle of multiculturalism and the problems women of color face in her home country of Italy. Directed by Janet De Nardis, the video feels like a public service announcement on the problem of everyday racism and rising above it. Twenty diverse Italian women from various backgrounds and careers recount racist things others have said to them, ignorant assumptions which reveal the racist tendency to avoid recognizing the diversity of identities in one’s community. Then the women respond with a laugh. It’s an uplifting and positive way to point out that many are still far behind in the country’s journey to acceptance and justice, but these women are leading the way. The women who share their personal experiences in the video are also featured in a lookbook of Stella Jean’s Fall 2020 fashion collection, which can be viewed here.
With the reignition of the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. and around the world in response to police violence, many brands are taking to social media for performative acts of allyship. They post a vaguely positive message about diversity and might even use the hashtag, but some quick research shows that many of these brands are guilty of the very problems they claim to oppose, from unacknowledged cultural appropriation to blatant racism and refusal to cast black talent. Stella Jean shows what it means to actively support black lives. She uses her platform and voice to loudly affirm the same principles she has been championing her entire career. Other brands should examine and acknowledge their own histories with racism and exploitation, then look to Stella Jean’s example and begin to build a practice that actively exemplifies the principles they claim to hold.
Stella Jean Creative Director | Stella Jean Director | Janet De Nardis Produced by | Laboratorio Delle Nazioni Assistant Director | Marco Passiglia Script Supervisor | Noemi Venerucci Talent | Sara Donat Cattin, Alexandra Abdelhalim, Valentina Wang, Dior Anne Ndiaye, Ilaria Gobbato, Ilenia Gobbato, Barbara Pontecorvo, Lifang Dong, Federica Rotolo, Cristina Aldrerighi, Maisha Grispino, Karima Cherif, & Amelia Kouame