Stella Jean showed the fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection as a take on the relationship of the United States and the USSR during the Cold War. She was influenced by Demna Gvasalia and Gosha Rubchinskiy, which led to Russian and Eastern bloc motifs being shown here.
Jean acknowledged the difference between then and now, simply by saying, “nothing is clear now.” The link between America and Russia’s governments is a cause of concern for many and Stella Jean chose not to spend time avoiding it, and so she used her skills to channel her thoughts into this collection.
The Stella Jean fall/winter 2017-18 collection showed off accessories like babushkas, fur hats, medal embroideries, lunch box bags and prints of a pastoral winter scene. Heavy layers of Russian peasant muftis and American military dress made for interesting options that are very charming as pieces, but many of the pieces were overwhelming when put together.
Stella Jean announced her thoughts and feelings on the current state of things very visibly and still managed to create a collection of attractive wearable items. The outerwear certainly absorbed the statement very well, depicting horses prancing on a hand-knit top with an off-the-shoulder neckline.
Perplexingly, and ambiguously Stella Jean changed the Russian Hammer and Sickle into a pair of scissors with a needle and thread before putting her name beneath it. There is no certainty to what it means, but she is comfortable with the concept being up in the air so we are left with our own thoughts to the image.
The colors were very rich thankfully, though definitely reminiscent of the old news feeds due to the layered qualities. The blend of American and Russian influences being intentional allowed her to be a bit more playful without losing her way.
The designer stated openly that the collection did have a meaning, even through the playfulness of a few of the designs. “It’s the representation of a culture, but not in a folkloric way, because it would become a parody, and I can’t allow my collection to be a parody of any culture,” Stella Jean told WWD.
People are jarred at the politicized topic being shown on the Stella Jena runway when her initial debut was about optimism, that is the climate we are in, it is polarizing and deeply changing people. Not only here but on a blue ribbed sweater, Stella Jean had an emblem that said “S.J. Army” on it. She dabbled, possibly a bit much through the U.S. Army references with the military medals on khaki jackets faux fur coats.
Her accessories were designed by 29-year-old Assaad Khalaf, who recently got his master’s degree in Haute Couture, and made his own statement prior to the runway presentation. “This is something really small, but for me, it could be a really important message — anything to let the world understand that Syria is not only about terrorism.” There is a lot to unpack in this collection, but it is interesting to see nonetheless.
Photos courtesy of Vogue