Italian designer Stella Jean quits Milan Fashion Week over lack of diversity & inclusion
She also said she had started a hunger strike Wednesday out of concern members of WAMI
The only Black designer belonging to Italy's fashion chamber withdrew Wednesday from this month's Milan Fashion Week, alleging a lack of support for diversity and inclusion after the chamber "abandoned" a project to promote young designers of color working in Italy.
Stella Jean interrupted a press conference by the Italian National Fashion Chamber to announce that neither she nor five members of the We Are Made in Italy collective of designers of color would participate in fashion week.
She also said she had started a hunger strike Wednesday out of concern members of WAMI, an initiative launched in 2020 on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement, could suffer a professional backlash for her activism.
The moves signaled a dramatic denouement of a nearly three-year-collaboration with the chamber to promote designers of color.
Italian Fashion Chamber President Carlo Capasa assured her from the dais that the chamber had no intention of retaliating in any way.
He expressed regret that neither she nor the WAMI members would participate in Fashion Week.
In addition, the chamber has included on the fashion week calendar the inaugural edition of the Black Carpet Awards recognizing the achievements of minorities in Italian society, and was hosting another diversity initiative by the owner and editor of U.S.-based Blanc Magazine, Teneshia Carr.
Jean charged that the chamber had significantly cut back support for WAMI 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.
She also said it backtracked on a promise to create a Black board within the chamber to promote diversity and inclusion.
Capasa told sources that he decided against the board after WAMI made social media posts that cast a negative light on some Italian fashion brands.