As I develop my one-woman show, Ache What Make, I continue to be inspired by aesthetics of resourcefulness, ever-present in the creative output of the Haitian Diaspora. The Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2012 collection jerks my collar. The juxtaposition of head wrap bouquets, boyish button-down shirts and flamboyant wax print skirts nods to a time-honored Caribbean sensibility.
Jean is a mixed-race Italian-Haitian woman in her thirties. She makes it clear in a candid interview: her hyphenated identity informs her confident designs.
Creole, clever, cool.
Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean.
I love the colorful interplay between demure and décolleté, linear and circular, formal and relaxed. Even as she conjures the costume compromises of the colonized, Jean achieves cohesive looks for boundary-blurring women.
Backstage at Rome's Haitian Embassy, Jean talks about her influences. I don't speak Italian (yet) but I recognize the word "Ayiti."