MILAN (AP) – The Italian Fashion Council’s only black designer is hailed as a “ breakthrough ” the inclusion of a Black Lives Matter event on September’s official show calendar and the formation of a working group aimed at ending racial discrimination in Italian fashion.
Stella Jean, a Haitian-Italian designer based in Rome, has put pressure on Italy’s National Fashion Chamber to advance cultural reform through concrete commitments to greater racial diversity, spurred by social media from top fashion houses that support Black Lives Matter. She and other black creatives in Italian fashion pushed for more content.
Five black-led Italian brands, discovered by the founder of the independent AFRO Fashion Week Milano, will be holding a digital presentation during the hybrid physical-digital Milan Fashion Week from September 23-28, the national fashion chamber announced Thursday. And the week opens with a closed-door working group of key councilors under the banner of ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion’.
Jean, in an Instagram post welcoming the events, called on brands “ who have made the most remarkable international missteps ” to join the event.
“Italian fashion will no longer hide behind excuses and justifications that redirect the conversation to other countries,” said Jean. “We are not asking for a seat at the table. It is time for a change. ”
Fashion houses such as Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Marni have all had to apologize for racially charged blunders in recent seasons. Jean and others argue that such blunders are just an indication of the lack of diversity behind the scenes in Italian fashion.
On the schedule announced Thursday, Fendi, Versace and Ferragamo will be among 23 fashion houses that will be holding physical runway shows during fashion week, while 41 others, including Prada and Giorgio Armani, have opted to remain digitally present due to concerns about the coronavirus. Events are streamed on the municipality’s website, as well as on mega screens in key locations in Milan.
Valentino, who is based in Rome but can normally be seen in Paris, has announced that it will show its mixed collection in Milan due to travel restrictions related to the virus.
Council chairman Carlo Capasa said during a streamed presentation that journalists and buyers from Europe have already indicated plans to travel to Milan for the events, which will also include showrooms critical to selling the collections around the world.