Due to inclusion, Stella Jean quits Milan Fashion Week.

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Stella Jean, the only Black designer in Italy’s famed fashion chamber “Camera Italiana della Moda,” has withdrawn from this year’s Milan Fashion Week, citing a lack of diversity and inclusion.

“We Are Made in Italy (WAMI), a collective of young designers of colour working in Italy, accompanied her out of the renowned event, generating a stir in Italy’s fashion industry.”

Jean, whose actual name is Stella Novarino, told AP reporters on Wednesday that Italy’s fashion chamber has dramatically reduced financing for WAMI over the past three years, and that she was tired of the “constant battle” for recognition of designers of colour in Italy.

Jean has also indicated that she will engage in a hunger strike out of concern for a backlash against other designers linked with her.

Jean wrote in a letter to Italian fashion chamber president Carlo Capasa, “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.”

Born to an Italian father and a Haitian mother, the 44-year-old designer has always placed multiculturalism at the centre of her practise and viewed fashion as a means of integration. She has utilised her position within the Italian fashion industry to bring attention to issues of racial inequality in Italy, despite suffering personally as a result of her advocacy.

WAMI, which was founded by Jean, Michelle Ngonmo, and Edward Buchanan in 2020, was expected to kick off Milan Fashion Week with a digital presentation this month. However, according to co-founder Ngonmo, the chamber did not provide the necessary €20,000 to support the group’s five designers.

Capasa, on the other hand, expressed regret over Jean’s decision and asserted that Milan Fashion Week’s schedule is “rich in diversity.”

The Milan Fashion Week will be held between February 21 and February 27 this year.

Designer Stella Jean quit this year’s Milan Fashion Week over a lack of commitment to diversity and inclusion


AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File

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