Black designers celebrated at Milan fashion week

"It is very important for us to show the world that "Made in Italy" does not correspond to a particular colour: we want to destroy the prejudice that being Italian means being white. "Made in Italy" was represented around the world as being a white concept, now it is no longer like this. The new Italy is not this and does not want to be this."

Italian high fashion, Black designers.

It's a world few know exists -- and even fewer get to enjoy.

But now, a show has been dedicated to Black Italian designers at Milan's fashion week for the first time ever.

The debut has been made part of the official calendar - a move organizers hope will highlight the lack of diversity in the industry.

The "We are Made in Italy" digital show was filmed in Milan's grand Palazzo Cleric and broadcast online, showcasing the Spring/Summer 2021 collections of five selected designers of color - who previously struggled to get a foot in the door.

Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean is the Italian fashion council's only Black member - and a fierce campaigner against racism in fashion.

She organized the event alongside the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion collective.

"It is really sad that all these Italian brands that enjoy worldwide attention and have a direct or indirect influence on billions of people around the world have not realized that in Italy an entire generation is asking for a voice and space, filling Italian squares from north to south with "Black Lives Matter" demonstrations."

Jean is demanding the sector's governing body supports Black designers, and she has called on Italian fashion houses to do more to confront racism.

Some have said that predominantly white Italy has shown a national blindness to insidious racism lurking under its skin.

"It is totally unfair that these people continue to remain invisible. The Italian brands pretend not to see them and give all their attention in a blatant way to the "Black Lives Matter" movements only outside of Italy, supporting the United States and all the other countries, but totally ignoring Italy. In Italy we have a racial problem and if we don't start opening the wound in order to heal it, the wound will never heal."

Jean mentored the five designers featured in the show - Fabiola Manirakiza, originally from Burundi, Senegalese designer Mokodu Fall, Claudia Gisele Ntsama who grew up in a family of tailors in Cameroon, Karim Daoudi who was born in Morocco and Joy Meribe, who grew up in Nigeria.