Stella Jean

Post by Thandie.

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Stella with one of her designs

I’ve had a mild obsession with the brand Stella Jean for a couple of years now. Fantastic, in-your-face, colourfully patterned fabrics, tethered into classic 50s silhouettes. The effect is dazzling, provocative and entirely sexy.

Designer Stella Jean was born to a Haitian mother and Italian father. The family was based in Rome where Stella struggled to feel culturally at home. But the discomfort of her formative years ending up being one of  the keys to her success. Her designs are a dreamscape of cultural fusion – exactly on trend in our global village of today. She managed, through her artistic expression, to not only make sense of her mixed cultural heritage, but to celebrate it, and then make it aspirational!

She didn’t study fashion or receive formal training, instead entered the business through an early career as a model.

She creates pieces by pinning fabric shapes onto a body block (the same technique as Coco Chanel and Roland Mouret). Feted by Armani and tipped for great things by Suzie Menkes of Herald Tribune, it’s no surprise that since 2012 her collection orders have doubled, and tripled in stores.

Her Spring/Summer collection took Stella to Burkina Faso as part of an ethically conscious trade show. Excited by their artisanal skills, she ended up centering her whole collection around their local fabrics, and bead work.

Stella Jean in Burkina Faso

Stella Jean in Burkina Faso

The results are quirky pieces emblazoned with cars, zebras, stripes and bright flowers.

The results are quirky pieces emblazoned with cars, zebras, stripes and bright flowers.

Teamed with head wraps, jaunty Panamas and stiletto pumps – the looks are show stopping.

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Stella and Suzie

Suzie Menkes raved; “Stella’s unusual ethnicity and her desire to make ethically sound clothes, helping the poorest women in the world, makes her bold and colourful clothes as beautiful inside as out.”

It’s not unusual to see brands using African fabrics (Burberry 2011) – but somehow Stella Jean does it with greater confidence – by pushing the personality of the clothes. You know this if you spend time in West Africa – it’s sexy and loud, everywhere evidence of hard won life – celebrated with singing and dancing. The clothes reminded me of that. I want to dance in them, sing in them, shout and laugh and flirt in them. They’re not clothes for the faint-hearted.

And they’re a great investment – a piece of Stella Jean in your wardrobe will create a half  dozen looks.

One of her pencil skirts can be dressed down with a simple T-Shirt and flats for day, or a satin bustier and spiky heels for night. Screen_Shot_2014-07-14_at_13.02.17

Next stop on her global tour is Japan, for her Autumn/Winter collection. I can’t wait. Stella Jean tout le monde!

Find out more about Stella Jean and shop the collection online at Matches

Follow Stella Jean on Twitter

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