Eighty-eight years after its inception in Italy, Milan’s famed design school Istituto Marangoni opened its doors in the Dubai International Financial Centre, welcoming aspiring fashion, interior and product designers from this month.
The launch was celebrated on Monday with a glamorous, fashion show at Museum of the Future, where looks designed by students from Istituto Marangoni’s fashion design programmes around the world were presented.
Fashion designer Rahul Mishra, who was the guest of honour at the fashion show, is a former student of Istituto Marangoni, as well as being the first Indian designer to win the Woolmark Prize and to show at Paris Haute Couture Week.
"The time I spent as a student at Istituto Marangoni greatly impacted my vision," he says. "A lot of the success of my brand is because of the quality of education I received. So I think young minds who are learning design and fashion will benefit from the world-class education the school offers, and the opening of Istituto Marangoni in Dubai is going to be a turning point in the field of fashion education for the region."
Other Istituto Marangoni graduates include Lebanese ready-to-wear designers Lama Jouni and Sandra Mansour, Filipino craftsman Ignacio Loyola, Lebanese shoe designer Andrea Wazen and Lina Mustafa, founder of The Luxury Arcade in Abu Dhabi.
Istituto Marangoni is part of Galileo Global Education Italia, the private higher education company that counts designers Franco Moschino and Domenico Dolce as former students.
Impressive as its former students are and as storied as its history is, Istituto Marangoni is all about nurturing talent for the future, managing director Stefania Valenti tells The National. This it seeks to do by tailoring courses that tick three boxes: technology, sustainability and quality.
‘Fashion means evolution’
“Fashion has always been a field that investigates new and unusual ways to represent society at a given moment, and explores creative dimensions for human expression. And this needs to continue in the future,” says Valenti. “Quite simply, fashion means evolution and transformation.”
It’s why Istituto Marangoni became the first fashion school to launch the Talent District in the metaverse earlier this year.
“The metaverse is one such new dimension where the creative community — from brands to fashion designers and art directors — can express themselves, their collections and their ideas in an innovative way," says Valenti. "It will allow them to be more peer-to-peer, as well as listen to the needs of the new generation. The Talent District will enable students and fashion, art and design enthusiasts to create a world where creativity has no boundaries."
Istituto Marangoni in the metaverse is divided into a series of futuristic districts that visitors can explore with customisable avatars. The Exhibition pavilion, for example, will showcase projects explained by the students’ own avatars, while the Theatre will host conferences and lectures that complement the school’s curriculums.
The institute also launched a master’s in digital design for immersive experiences course in some of its European campuses this month “to respond to the need for a professional figure who has the skills to design immersive experiences and rethink spaces through interactive technologies," Valenti explains. "This will boost our perception of and interaction with reality, as well as rise to the challenges of a profoundly evolving market."
‘We need to limit waste’
While it is common knowledge that the creation of fashion comes at a huge ecological price, the statistics continue to shock. According to a 2021 United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion report, apparel and footwear generate up to 8 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions, which are estimated to increase to more than 60 per cent by 2030.
“Reducing waste and promoting sustainability is one of our main goals,” says Valenti. “We started an MBA focusing on sustainability a few years ago, when the discussion was not as broad as it is today, but rather quite sensitive within the creative community.”
Presently, all Istituto Marangoni courses are curated to promote a culture and deliver tools that enable aspiring designers and brand managers to “limit the waste”, she says. For instance, students are encouraged to submit digital prototypes, rather than spending resources at this early stage of their collection or product’s life cycle.
“We help students analyse production and supply chains, and offer them new software and concrete digital tools to transform the creative path and make it more sustainable. It is not realistic to believe this can or will happen in the very near future, but the long-term strategy simply must take it into account.”
‘Craftsmanship is on our side’
No matter what the future of fashion and design will be, the aesthetic value of a product or piece of clothing is unparalleled. It’s what drives both creators and consumers.
The Made in Italy label has come to represent a high level of craftsmanship and quality, and Valenti is very much of the belief that Istituto Marangoni epitomises this phrase as much as any high-end maison.
“In Italy, we are always looking to create something that is bello, something beautiful,” she says. “The aesthetic part of fashion and design is part of our culture and legacy. Look at shoes or bags or items crafted from wood … we have the foundation and artisanal capacity to create something from scratch and take it to extremely sophisticated detail. We have craftsmanship on our side.”
Valenti believes that, no matter what course an Istituto Marangoni student takes up, “the capacity to build a brand is the most important lesson we can impart to future designers".
"This starts off with how to select materials, create a unique identity and express one’s personality all by way of a high-quality product,” she says.
“Then comes the focus on sustainability and finally how to explore and use technology — the metaverse and whatever will come next — to further this wisdom.”