Stella Jean’s AW16 is a masterclass in cross-culture

Haitian-Italian designer Stella Jean might have made her name with her interesting use of Dutch Wax (better known as Ankara) but she hasn’t let that define her as a designer. She has taken influences from her Afro-Caribbean and Italian origins and swirled them into the inspiration behind her new collection.

The biggest surprise of the new collection is the complete lack of Dutch wax, particularly poignant because it was the corner stone on which the Stella Jean brand has built its identity. Instead Jean infuses patterns and prints into the new collection with embroidery, embellishments and fringing. Knits also constitute a big part of the collection, Jean sends grand shawls down the runway fringed with Ndebele patterns, and creates technicolor sweaters out of the same patterns. She also reworks traditional knit accessories into her work, the most interesting is using hat bobbles as detailing on skirts.

There are also a lot of references to her Italian roots, nutcracker style soldiers are patterned into jackets and skirts and the pants she sends down the runway are vertically piped, much like ceremonial dress uniforms, a juxtaposition to the embroidered masks and animal motifs on the pieces.

But the most interesting detail of this collection are the fringed bib necklaces of various sizes and lengths that give the collection it’s distinct tribal bent without falling into caricature. This is Stella Jean’s true genius, her ability to collude worlds without creating jarring disconnect.

Photo Credits:

Luca Tombolini/

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