Haitian-Italian designer Stella Jean is known for tapping into her bicultural experience and bringing that into design, showing off the history of her cultures as a form of a storytelling rather than for aesthetic purposes. As a designer, Jean is also known for being consciously and socially aware by calling out racism in the Italian fashion industry. In her most recent call-to-action, Jean posed the question: Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?
On August 19, Stella Jean posted a video where she called out Milan Fashion Week and Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (the Italian Chamber of Fashion) for the lack of Black designers in fashion week shows and the little inclusion of Black members on the fashion council. She also had her facts and statistics ready as the video revealed there have been zero Black designers in the last two Milan Fashion Week shows. In addition, there is only one current Black member out of 113 non-Black members in Italy’s Fashion Council. There has been one Black Fashion Council member since 1958. Lastly, she is still waiting for hear back from the council on the percentage of Black representation in the Italian fashion industry as a whole.
Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (the Italian Chamber of Fashion), responded back to initial question concerning whether Black lives matter in Italian fashion: “We don’t understand why you’re calling us out. It [Racism in Italian fashion] doesn’t fall within our competence. Go ask for help from the Italian Parliament or something like that.“
He also followed up on the lack of Black designers showing at Milan Fashion Week, “No Black designer was in MFW show schedule, because none of them were ready for the catwalk…actually, those Black designers are smart enough that they prefer to be featured in the fashion hub market (African area ed.)…“
Stella Jean also called out brands like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Ferragamo for their “performative black squares” on Blackout Tuesday, demanding that these brands “pull up and show up for real change starting right here at home.“
Since the video, Stella announced two major breakthroughs. First, the Italian Chamber of Fashion will create its first group to end racial discrimination in the Italian fashion scene along with a “Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion” think tank during Milan Fashion Week. Secondly, five Black designers will debut during Milan Fashion Week.
Thoughts on this?