Milan Fashion Week’s only Black designer quits due to racism, announces hunger strike
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- Published on February 9, 2023
- Last Updated May 15, 2023
- In Culture
Stella Jean pulls out of Milan Fashion Week citing a lack of diversity and inclusion after Black design collective is excluded.
Famed fashion designer Stella Jean pulled out of this year’s Milan Fashion Week due to the production company’s lack of diversity and inclusion.
On Wednesday, Jean interrupted a press conference with the Italian National Fashion Chamber. Her disruption centered around her disdain for the Chamber excluding designers of color.. She announced, “that neither she nor five members and designers of color from the We Are Made in Italy collective would participate in fashion week.”
After the press conference debacle, the 44-year-old designer spoke with Associated Press, claiming that the Italian National Fashion Chamber “had significantly cut back support for the We Are Made in Italy collective of young designers of color working in Italy after she made an impassioned speech about the personal price she had paid for highlighting racial injustice in Italy during a runway show last September.”
Following her pursuit for justice, the WAMI collective also announced their departure from the fashion week. They were set to kick off the digital runway portion of the week.
To affirm her solidarity, Jean announced she was going on a hunger strike out of concern that her passionate outburst could hurt the future of the WAMI designers. The Italian-Haitian designer is no stranger to retaliation. Her family has endured death threats and police retaliation due to her outspokenness about racism toward people of color in Milan.
In her conversation with the outlet, she added, “The chamber told us, ‘We didn’t know there were Italian designers who weren’t white.’ We brought them to the runway. They supported us for two years. Then we were abandoned,”
The racial makeup of Milan is 82.6% White, a staggering number compared to 2.5% of its citizens identifying as Black.
The Milan Fashion Week is part of the “Big 4” international fashion weeks.
The weeks kick off in Paris (Jan 17-22), New York (Feb 10.-15), London (Feb 17-21) and Milan (Feb 21-27).