Stella Jean speaks out about racism within the fashion industry

Amy de Klerk
Photo credit: Gareth Cattermole - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

Stella Jean has spoken out about the racism she has witnessed when working as a black fashion designer in Italy. The Milan Fashion Week regular says that we have been given an opportunity at this unique moment in history to create significant change.

Jean has been presenting her collections in Milan for years, but chose in February to step off the schedule in favour of putting out a short film and photography project entitled Italians In Becoming, in which she highlighted multicultural Italy and 20 women of colour, who vocalised racist comments that had been directed at them.

She said that she decided not to show last season "since the situation was no longer acceptable".

Photo credit: Victor Boyko - Getty Images

"I could not fathom holding a fashion show as if nothing serious was happening," she wrote on Instagram.

And now, the designer has opened up about the lack of reaction she got for her social-awareness campaign at the time, from publications who have now promised to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Believe me, I knocked on every door," Jean told British Vogue. "I wrote emails and letters to all the important Italian media and people who could help. And the sad thing is, only three people answered me. When I saw [the same people] put a black square for #BlackOutTuesday and writing to say they support the cause of black Americans, the first thing that came to my mind was, 'What?! You want to talk about racial issues in the United States, but you don’t see what happens in your own house every single day?'"

The designer added that although she was disappointed about this, she is optimistic for what this means for the future: "It was sad, because when I knocked, nobody answered, and now they’re all activists. But I’m optimistic – I don’t want to think it’s hypocrisy. I hope from now on they will be supportive. If not, we are losing a great chance to change."

Jean added: "This moment in history should allow us [the opportunity] to reshape our perspectives and priorities."

Photo credit: Mondadori Portfolio - Getty Images

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