This Rome-based fashion star opens up about her Haitian roots and how clothes can be a cultural connector.

ESSENCE: What inspires your creations?

STELLA JEAN: My own story—my roots and background have always inspired my work. I'm half-Haitian and half-Italian. Haiti influences my creativity. The sociocultural fusion I bring in my collections is perfectly represented by a country like Haiti and in line with my fundamental need to convey a new concept of multiculturalism. Fashion can be a cultural translator; we can reestablish the proportion among symbols, stories and different worlds through style.

ESSENCE: How would you describe the Stella Jean woman?

S.J.: Women who are confident, curious, audacious, not afraid to experiment and who cherish family memories, plus have a pinch of irony—all of which makes every look personal and unique.

ESSENCE: Who are your favorite designers?

S.J.: Dries Van Noten, who mixes different cultures in a tasteful and respectful way. And Etro, who sums up a blend of tradition and innovation.

ESSENCE: What are your go-to beauty products?

S.J.: Kreyòl Essence 100% natural Haitian black castor oil, pure organic moringa oil (from the southern coast of Haiti) by Ayiti Natives and MAC's In Extreme Dimension mascara.