STELLA JEAN AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR MILAN
“I am genuinely interested in multicultural crossovers,” said Stella Jean backstage before yesterday’s show. “I try to keep a fresh perspective, avoiding the traps of the tourist’s eye or, even worse, the perils of an imperialist gaze. It’s not about one culture prevailing on the other. Rather, I am an advocate for the seamless blending of the apparently disparate.” And off she went for a colorfully complex trip to the Himalayas, complete with outsized pom-pom tassels and garishly opulent decor proudly verging on the kitsch.
By now, Stella’s method is familiar: keeping shapes within the codified frame of Western iconic staples—from mannish tailoring to romantic dresses to doll-like mini-crini skirts, the latter often inflated to farcical volumes. Every season the designer turns to a new geographic area in order to find colors, patterns, prints, and general atmosphere. Sometimes it looks repetitive, but at least Jean has a precise point of view, and the guts to stick to it regardless of major trends. This time, there was a feast of grainy tweeds and fantastic embroideries—an homage to the ritual decoration of the Himalayan yak—as well as flowing silks and floating volumes. It all looked very signature Jean, but there was also something new going on—a certain looseness, a charming nonchalance. That was apparent in the long vertical coats worn with boyfriend pants and embroidered slip-on sneakers, the liquid dresses, and striped roll-necks. Even the trademark babushka hourglass pinafores looked new when worn sans crini and with sneakers. Jean should delve further in this street-savvy direction: It clearly suits her, shaking some metaphorical dust off.
MILAN doesn’t profess to be a launchpad for new talent – not in quite such the same way as London does. It’s about established names. But Stella Jean is known as the fashion capital’s rising star, thanks in part to Mr Armani’s designer launch pad, which saw her this time last year make her mark on the schedule. It’s also in part because of her bold and bright design sensibility that strikes a contrast to the rest of what we see in Milan. Today she took her noted colourful creations by way of the Indian Himalayas, which turned out for an explosion of texture and print across sturdy winter overcoats, supremely puffed up-and-out dirndl skirts and little tweedy customised blazers that came bejewelled or pompom-clad, but mostly both. Twisted blanket skirts and serious bracelet action; pleated maxi skirts and trainers; splaying skirts, socks and platforms: it was a vibrant mash-up. Brave fashion souls need only apply.