Stella Jean defines herself as “irreverent.” As a mixed-race designer in a traditional Italian fashion universe, that might not seem too surprising.
And the secret to her A/W15 collection was diversity — but in shape, rather than in cultural meaning.
So there was a big, straight, floor-sweeping coat, mannish apart from ethnic effects, like embroidery figures of what looked like Indian children. This was followed by skirts so full that they bounced up and down in what seemed like a parody of femininity.
But Stella Jean has learned a lot since she first sent out her models in wobbly high heels. In this show there was a literal change of footwear to include personalised sneakers, adding to the masculine offerings.
The designer has also enlarged her repertoire, showing handmade knits that were both colourful and told a story. The only thing she has not quite worked out is how to provide a blank canvas against which colour and pattern can stand out by contrast. A few whisper-quiet coats or knits would have made the rest easier to digest as fashion statements.