European Fashion Schools: Università IUAV di Venezia

Università Iuav di Venezia, IUAV, was established in Venice in 1926, as one of the first architectural schools in Italy. Organized into three departments – ‘Architecture, Construction and Conservation’, ‘Design and Planning in Complex Environments’ and ‘Architecture and Arts’ – the IUAV is a University with full focus on design. “It’s the perfect place for a fashion design program” – for the last part of the European Fashion Schools series, The Blogazine spoke to Maria Luisa Frisa, fashion critic and curator, and fashion director at the IUAV.

The main focus of the school lies in the different aspects of design – IUAV and design are two words that walk hand in hand – and it’s interesting how this perspective to the world of arts and architecture can benefit the fashion students of the school. “The question of how a strong design profile can benefit our fashion students is one of those questions that already contains its answer. In Italy it’s not customary to find a public university which deals with the theories and practices in fashion design, but IUAV is the place where this is happening and honestly, it’s the only place where I can imagine where it’s possible to make such a thing happen.”

Venice, and Treviso, where the fashion campus is located, are world known cities even though they have never been considered as ‘classic’ centres of fashion. So for a school educating people that have to enter the industry, how can the IUAV compete with the schools located in cities that have ‘full access‘ to the fashion industry? According to Frisa, being at the periphery of things gives the IUAV the chance to experiment, to find new ways of doing things, to invite new faces and new designers to contribute to a project. Of course, during times such as during the Biennale, Venice becomes an important centre, for instance of the Prada Foundation. “Recently we had Yoko Ono visiting us for an open lecture and an exhibition, and even she felt that there is a lot of things happening in Venice! A lot of people meet here for various reasons and this privileged atmosphere should be treasured and preserved.”

The IUAV does not only work with the creative part of fashion but also offers several theoretical courses, and as Frisa herself works as a curator, we took a moment to speak about where she sees space for theoretical professionals in the fashion industry. “Museums, galleries and cultural institutions for sure, both in Italy and internationally. But since I consider fashion one of those creative industries which now have the duty to redefine what we are used to consider as “Made in Italy”, curators and thinkers with a specific profile on fashion design will be useful and are actually requested by industries and production teams. People with a theoretical fashion basis can bring innovative visions on what’s happening now and on future possible scenarios.” On the other side of the IUAV fashion programs, there’s the fashion design students, who graduated last month with their final shows. “The BA Graduation show was brilliant” says Maria Luisa Frisa. “They were encouraged to explore their own inspirations and imageries trying to find a new idea of pattern making, which considers the idea of mistakes as a source of innovation, while the MA show was much more experimental and a true performance curated by Kinkaleri.”

Coming from a place which combines theory and practice in an environment that might bring other influences than the big fashion cities, what is the most important thing for the students to bring with them out in the world of business from the IUAV? “The athmoshpere of our community: the idea of teamwork that we always experiment with during all the ateliers, and the idea of self-curating their own project. They need to consider the design process as a whole, which starts from research and getting ideas and ends with the presentation and staging of the project.” She speaks about freedom to experiment, but also to make mistakes, as an element that a creative school needs to provide for its students, in order to make them grow. What regards her answer for the standard question of a tip for people looking for a career in fashion, Frisa replies: “Two words I’ve recently used as a title for a lecture done during the Europeana International Fashion Conference in Florence: talent and discipline.” Two words that conclude the series well.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Francesco de Luca & Laura Bolzan / IUAV 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

European Fashion Schools: Central Saint Martins

We’re back in London and back at the University of Arts, but this time we’re heading into the world of Central Saint Martins. CSM, the initials breathe talent and creativity, they breathe design, fame and innovation. The Blogazine has previously looked at its talents and the work executed by its students, but more than heavy names on its list of graduates, is Central Saint Martins the answer to the question asked by themselves too: What’s the point of art school?

The question is interesting, when coming from an art school itself. Central Saint Martins brought up the discussion in a moment when art and design education have been facing a hard time, and by that CSM communicates that the need to deliver a clear answer to what art, fashion or design education actually brings to the students, society and industry, is greater than ever. They highlight the point that fashion – or art – education is becoming more exclusive but less diverse. So how does a school like Central Saint Martins, famous for not being only exclusive and of high quality, but a school that graduates talent, after talent, after talent, create a diversity different from the competitors?

At Central Saint Martins everything is gathered under one roof: art, product and industrial design, drama and performance, fashion, textile and jewelry design, graphic communication and all the other courses on all levels that fit into the culture of CSM. According to the school itself, their approach to art and education is curious and may result in a challenging, but never dull, journey. Without saying that boundaries were made to be broken, in the world of Central Saint Martins they were at least made to be explored. The courses at the school, located in the midst of London’s bursting creative scene, have a strong connection to the actual practice of the industry. The approach of the teachers, which often seems to take colour on the students, is forward-looking and always on the edge, bringing the school to be one of the ones always standing in the forefront of the discussion.

Like for any school that seems to be able to produce great talent, it’s hard to pinpoint how, what, and why they succeed. Maybe it’s the approach, maybe it’s the experience, maybe, and most probably, it’s the combination of a certain structure and vision created by the school. An approach that dares to ask if art school is necessary, an approach that encourages people to be brave and to do what they love.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Central Saint Martins 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter  

European Fashion Schools: Istituto Europeo di Design

Istituto Europeo di Design, more commonly known as IED, is a fashion and design school that has been in business since the first campus opened in Milan, 1966. With a total of eleven locations in Italy, Spain and Brazil, IED works as an international network, offering short courses, three-year-programs, masters as well as one-year-diploma courses training young professionals. The school has since the beginning focused on the synergies between technology and experimentation. On top of the creativity aspect, the campuses concentrate also on the aspects of strategies and integrated communication, market issues and a new form of professionalism. The Blogazine spoke to Sara Azzone, director of IED Moda in Milan and Annaluisa Franco, coordinator and professor at IED in Florence, to find out more about a network that keeps on growing internationally.

“It might sound banal, but we must rely upon the past to make the future. One great lesson of Italian fashion is to base creativity upon functionality, as a reason for the beauty of a garment. I do think this is of crucial importance to move forward to the next design paradigm and overcome the current crisis”, says Sara Azzone when we start talking about Italian fashion, the school’s heritage and the concept of Made in Italy. Continuing to speak about Milan as a student city she says: “For both Italian and foreign students, Milan is one of the few places in Italy offering an international and complete perspective on the world of design. This means two things: as for business, collaborations with renowned companies, multifaceted job opportunities and contacts with a myriad of people who belong to this world; as for fashion design, the opportunity to have a daily contact with fashion along with a real perception of what it is, in order to use it as a tool for personal and professional growth.”

Annaluisa Franco continues: “IED is not ‘just’ a fashion, design, visual arts or management school. The co-existence of these departments truly creates a community of fresh-minded people that learn a transversal approach to the current job market and have multiple skills.” As for what Florence brings to the table she replies: “IED chose Florence mainly for the accessibility that Florence and Tuscany offer to the design fields. Many of the best-known Italian companies worldwide produce, design and sell their goods in Tuscany first. This is particularly true for fashion and high-level design brands. The connection with the region, with the know-how and high quality of artisanal works is strong. It’s a dynamic situation that brings great benefits to the students. Not only are they immersed in the cultural heart of Italian Renaissance, though rich with inspiration, but they are also close to a lot of small, medium and large companies.”

Both Franco and Azzone mention a strong relation between the different IED campuses but point out that each IED city maintains its identity, strongly connected to the culture and society of the country. A student won’t find the same undergraduate or master program in more than one location, however, the benefits of being an international network facilitates exchanges between campuses. All the IED venues also work with a variety of teachers coming straight from the professional world. “It’s fundamental” says Annaluisa Franco. The school uses an experiential, applicative and hands-on didactic approach, in which teachers who simultaneously works for companies within the industry become important. The students are given an every-day-view of the working world, where the true challenges, as well as solutions, can be discussed. “Professionals may take teaching classes to improve their in-class presence but if you’ve never worked in the professional world, you will end up having nothing to teach about.”

Sara Azzone agrees. “What makes the difference, of being a ‘good’ fashion school, is the capacity to prepare your students to face the demands of this world by training them as true professionals and giving them the opportunity to be constantly in touch with people working in contemporary fashion.”

“At the risk of sounding blasé – the world is not what it used to be”, comments Franco when the discussion goes towards the difficulties of the business of today and the changes of an industry in constant progress. “What attracts people in fashion has changed, often these changes are still overlooked and non-defined. To only offer ‘fashion design’ when the industry is looking for social media experts, CAD-CAM modeling know-how or eco-innovators doesn’t make sense. The jobs and figures in the industry are new and therefore we, on the educational side, have to create a structure for something that others don’t know how to ask for yet.”

During its almost 50 years of existence, Istituto Europeo di Design has built up a dynamic and interconnected system – effective and stimulating and a place where its students can create their first network of connections. So, what is the recipe for success in a business that only seem to become tougher? “Read, watch, listen, talk to people, absorb as much as you can – there is no other way to be successful. Do not be afraid to express yourself – and of course, work hard.”

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Istituto Europeo di Design 
Share: Facebook,  Twitter