Milan Fashion Week’s press conference ahead of its womenswear catwalk season was mired in controversy after designer Stella Jean said she would not show after funding from Italy’s fashion chamber, Camera della Moda (CNMI), was stopped after four seasons.
Ms Jean, one of the driving forces of the We Are Made in Italy (WAMI) collective, which represents a minority of Black, Indigenous and designers of colour in Italian fashion, said designers struggled to buy fabrics and produce collections after financial support was halted in September.
Italy’s lack of minority representation in its fashion industry has long been glossed over, with Ms Jean, who is from Italian-Haitian descent, stating the Camera della Moda said it “didn’t know there were Italian designers who weren’t white. We brought them to the runway.” She added, “they supported us for two years. Then we were abandoned.’’
Carlo Capasa, CNMI President, expressed regret that neither she nor the WAMI members would participate in Fashion Week but that there would be no retaliation.
“Stella’s contribution has always been appreciated. We Italians need to have our conscience stimulated,’’ he said. “As for WAMI, we are not people who retaliate. For us it is important to promote new brands.”
Ms Jean is the only Black person on the board of Italy’s fashion chamber.
Milan's womenswear fashion week runs from 21 to 27 February.