WAMI returns to the catwalk in Milan with five new designers and a tribute to a legend

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“Two years ago, I stopped showing my collections. I made the decision not to organize a fashion show until I was the only black designer on the catwalk. I didn’t want to be the only exception to the rule,” said Stella Jean, the driving force behind the WAMI collective, created in 2020 when she teamed up with fellow designer Edward Buchanan and Michelle Francine Ngonmo, founder and CEO of the Milan Afro Fashion Association. Since then, scouting, supporting, mentoring and giving visibility to an ethnically diverse array of fashion designers has been their unwavering goal, which has paid off, with Camera Della Moda also lending a hand. The collections of the first designers of the Fab Five (this is the nickname used by the Collective) were presented in 2020 during the last physical Milan Fashion Week before the pandemic.

Strong-willed Jean’s dream came true this season, when an emotional event was held to celebrate WAMI’s achievements and the start of a new phase. It was truly a collective, communal affair, full of joy, music, dancing and a few tears. Stella Jean presented their spring 23 collection, Edward Buchanan presented their latest offering Sansovino 6, and the WAMI collective presented the creations of the new designers of the Fab Five. There was also a tribute to Giorgio Armani, who was the first to give Jean the opportunity to show (in his Armani Teatro in 2013) when she had just started: Fab Five from yesterday and today paid homage to Armani using fabrics provided by the designer. Armani will also offer an internship to one of WAMI’s designers.

The community show paid tribute not only to the unwavering commitment of Jean, Buchanan and Ngonmo, but also to the talent and creative potential of all the fashion designers featured.

Stella Jean spring 2023 collection

Jean riffed on her best-ofs, infusing new energy into her imaginative looks. She called the collection “a cultural corridor,” built with artisans from Madagascar, who are extremely skilled at weaving natural raffia into beautiful handcrafted creations. She also renewed her long-standing partnership with the Umbrian women artisans she previously worked with. Together, they imagined inventive proposals, pieces with simple shapes, with a decorative character and a strong and progressive social message.

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