Why the only Black designer in Italy’s esteemed fashion chamber has dropped out of Milan Fashion Week

Mildred Europa Taylor February 09, 2023
Stella Jean. Photo: AP

Black Italian fashion designer Stella Jean has dropped out of Milan Fashion Week, claiming that organizers have failed to support diversity and inclusion. Italian-Haitian Jean, who is the only Black designer belonging to Italy’s fashion chamber, withdrew Wednesday from the event scheduled to begin on February 21.

Five members of the We Are Made in Italy (WAMI) collective of designers of color she helped found would also not take part in the event. Jean told The Associated Press that the Italian National Fashion Chamber had stopped supporting the WAMI collective of young designers of color working in Italy following a speech she made about racial injustice during a September 2022 fashion show. 

44-year-old Jean said on Wednesday that she was going on a hunger strike until the Italian National Fashion Chamber assured her that the minority designers in her WAMI collective will not be punished professionally for her actions.

“This admittedly extreme measure of mine stems from having heard several voices from the collective worried about ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ repercussions, including difficulty in securing funding and services from sponsors and partners, given the power wielded by you as president of the chamber in the industry,” Jean wrote in a letter Wednesday to the chamber’s president, Carlo Capasa.

Capasa, who said he was yet to read Jean’s letter, debunked the allegations made by Jean. He stressed that the Milan Fashion Week calendar was “full of diversity”.

“In the calendar that we are presenting today, you will see all that we are doing for people of color who are working in Italy,″ Capasa said.

Jean made her Milan runway premiere in 2013 on the Armani runway, according to AP. She was to open Milan Fashion Week with the WAMI collective, which she helped launch in 2020 to help improve diversity in the Italian fashion industry and eliminate every form of discrimination against the BIPOC community.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 9, 2023


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