Known professionally as Stella Jean, Stella Novarino is an Italian fashion designer of partial Haitian origin. Jean was born in 1979 and raised in Rome. Her mother, Violette Jean, is Haitian, and her father, Marcello Novarino, is Italian. She studied political science at the Sapienza University of Rome, before dropping out to model for Egon von Fürstenberg, fashion designer and ex-husband of Diane von Fürstenberg. She soon realized that she would rather make the clothes than wear them.
Acknowledging fashion’s potential, as a cultural activity, to provide significant opportunities for decent work for men and women around the world.
– Stella Jean
A self-taught Italian-Haitian designer, Jean’s work is described as “multiculturalism applied to fashion, resulting in a cultural fusion of her own métisse (woman of mixed race) identity.” Her work often merges classical Italian tailoring with stylistic features of varying cultures.
Stella Jean’s designs reflect her Creole heritage, and she often works with Haitian and African artisans, incorporating their work into her fashions. Through her use of native craftspeople, she seeks to support struggling countries and communities and preserve their ancestral arts and traditions. Her desire is to make ethically sound clothes by helping the less advantaged women in the world.
Bold & Colorful
To that end, Stella Jean created the business model and sustainable development platform: Laboratorio delle Nazioni (Laboratory of Nations) (LDN). It focuses on what occurs when fashion becomes a tool for cooperative international development. Jean works to generate commercial enterprise and self-sustaining local communities, focusing on women’s empowerment. International cooperation between Jean’s aesthetic and the artisans of developing countries is an ever-present staple of her designs, which aim to promote cultural heritage as an enabler and a driver of sustainable development. Jean’s past LDN missions have included Peru, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali, Pakistan, and other expeditions in South America, Africa, and Asia.
Stella Jean’s bold and colorful clothing designs have been worn by celebrities like Rihanna, Beyoncé, Viola Davis, and Tamron Hall. She is a member of the Italian Chamber of Fashion and the only member of Afro-European background.
A collection is more than the sum of its garments; clothes can speak louder and in a more incisive manner than many words, somehow managing to ignite cultural fabric.