Stella Jean won Vogue Italia’s "Who Is On Next" talent contest in 2011 and her dresses swiftly sold out when they landed at MatchesFashion a few seasons later. But her story was no overnight success. The self-taught Italian-Haitian designer twice failed to qualify for the talent competition, part of the Alta Roma schedule, but it was third-time luck when she finally qualified, and won.
She soon garnered the support of industry heavyweights, such as Suzy Menkes , and most of all, Giorgio Armani , who personally selected her Spring/Summer 2014 collection to show at his 550-seat Teatro Armani show space in Milan, as well as lending his communications team — the first time he has ever shared both with another designer. Jean's designs have also attracted the attention of Louboutin and been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Zendaya over the years.
“Stella's unusual ethnicity and her desire to make ethically sound clothes, helping the poorest women in the world, makes her bold and colourful clothes as beautiful inside as out,” Suzy Menkes, Vogue International editor and a firm supporter of Jean's, said after the 2014 show.
Jean, who uses her mother’s maiden name for the brand, rather than her given surname Novarino, often seeks inspiration from her cultural identity, and uses sustainably sourced fabrics, aimed at helping trade workers in developing communities.
In January 2015, she showed her men’s Autumn/Winter 2015 collection at Milan Fashion Week for the first time and, in June, she showed some of her pieces in the "Global Fashion Capitals" exhibition at the FIT Museum in New York.
She studied political science at Sapienza University of Rome, before dropping out to model for Egon von Fürstenberg, fashion designer and ex-husband of Diane Von Furstenberg. She is a mother of two and lives in Rome, where the label is based, although it is also stocked in specialty boutiques worldwide, including Matches Fashion, The Corner, Moda Operandi, Farfetch, United Arrows, and Alara Lagos.