With oversized sporty T-shirts, blouses patterned with foliage and skirts printed with an image of a hut dominated by palm trees, Stella Jean went on a different destination for her new collection.
“I went home,” she said, meaning that for the first time in her career as a designer she looked at Haïti, part of her family blood line. And it was not just as background to colourful pictorial patterns, printed even on swimsuits.
Part of her mission was to have things made in Haïti, using the expertise of the United Nations’ International Trade Centre (ITC) Ethical Fashion Initiative, which lobbies for ethical and fair trade manufacturing centres in developing countries.
So as much as the designer, who was raised in Italy, wanted to capture the country through its Art Naïf, she was also determined to help its people.
The recurring pattern of donkeys and “tap tap” painted buses were inspired by Haïti but were produced on modern skirts, full or narrow. They showed that Stella Jean had moved her fashion work forward.
But Stella Jean also had artisanal jewellery — horn bracelets, wrought-iron metalwork and even decoration in papier-mâché.
Simone Cipriani, who heads the ITC project, said at the show that plans are moving fast forward, and a dedicated factory is being built in Ghana. As the Stella Jean show proved, you can rejoice and be joyous while empowering hand-workers.