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The Diverse Cultures of Istituto Marangoni

BoF sits down with Istituto Marangoni managing director Roberto Riccio to hear why exposure to international design capitals and student diversity are critical to fashion education.  
Roberto Riccio, group managing director of Istituto Marangoni | Source: Courtesy

MILAN, Italy — Istituto Marangoni was founded in Italy in 1935. Today, the school comprises seven international campuses and is one of the largest fashion education institutions, with a student body in excess of 4000 students. Famous alumni include Julie de Libran, creative director of Sonia Rykiel and designer Umit Benan. Through its Interschool Project, students can move between campuses while completing their studies, attending classes in Paris, London, Milan, Florence, Shanghai and Shenzhen, or any variety there of. BoF sits down with Istituto Marangoni managing director Roberto Riccio, to hear why exposure to international design capitals and student diversity are critical to fashion education.

BoF: How would you define the DNA of Istituto Marangoni?

I believe our international approach to education defines our DNA. Firstly, all of the Istituto Marangoni campuses are situated in exceptional locations within cities that have emerged as design capitals. Students have the opportunity to study at campuses in Milan, Florence, Paris, London, Shanghai and Shenzhen. The Interschool Project, our exclusive internal system enables students to take classes at any or all of the international Istituto Marangoni campuses, and to take advantage of the multiple opportunities and different features offered by each school, city, and country, while completing their degree.

The courses offered by Istituto Marangoni vary according to the location of the campus. We believe the “cultural contamination,” brought to the programmes by the locations of the schools, provides invaluable nuance to course curriculums. In Florence, for instance, the new School of Fashion, Design & Art will focus on the traditions of the Florentine craftsmanship and Renaissance art, with newly launched campus-specific courses in Menswear and Accessories that reflect this. At the end of this exclusive journey, the students have the chance to obtain a degree internationally recognised (BA Hons) with credits.

BoF: What do you believe distinguishes the best fashion education in today’s market?

Istituto Marangoni continuously invests in top-level business research, (internal and external) to ensure that our programmes follow an incremental learning and testing model, and are in line with industry needs in terms of curriculum. This research and re-assessment of course content and structure allows for current issues in industry, such as sustainability and new technologies, to be integrated in the curriculum.

We also believe it is crucial that students “learn by doing.” This practical approach informs our continuing decision to operate campuses in design capitals, at the centre of action, where fashion is thriving and the industry is developing. Direct contact with places full of the history of art and design, which also have vibrant futures, allows students to constantly assimilate the concepts of beauty, dynamism and contemporaneity that are essential to their professional and personal enrichment. It is important that our students experience fashion actually in practise during their daily lives attending our schools — we believe living and studying in international fashion hubs is pivotal to student experience.

BoF: How do you prepare your students for the realities of a career in fashion?

During their period of study, we aim to provide students with the same kind of professional experiences that they will deal with throughout their career. As a result, collaborations with companies from the fashion industry are an integral part of students’ academic paths, providing an ongoing exchange within the frameworks of the industry, including briefings and precise commercial goals students must strive towards. The collaborations also open the door for students to become familiar with production, research and development processes and facilities.

BoF: What kind of students thrive in the educational environment of Istituto Marangoni schools?

Thanks to the extensive offer available, each year Istituto Marangoni attracts over 4,000 students from 106 countries. The vast majority are young under or post graduate students looking for success in their future career; some are already emerging designers or professionals who wish to improve their skills and boost their careers through professional and personal growth in a lively, multilingual environment. We believe Istituto Marangoni students understand how important it is to form or improve their studies through the diversity of the student body and learning environments we provide.

BoF: What new areas of study and training is the institution focused on?

The core curriculum of each school will always reflect the Istituto Marangoni stamp, a contemporary and forward thinking approach to the world of fashion with a focus on execution in creative tasks and polished presentation in business projects.

New approaches in our teaching methodology include Fashion Elite, a programme whereby selected postgraduate students agree on a project to develop into a collection. In the first year of delivery, the project culminated in a catwalk collection and presentation, featuring menswear and womenswear inspired by the characters of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland film, in Milan. The project was well received by both press and Disney. Further initiatives include increasing interdisciplinary projects and pathway models of study that reflect the contemporary need for a broader and richer learning framework.

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