Danilo Venturi, Director of Polimoda was interviewed by Pambianco Magazine Russia, about the Institute’s global outlook and the Revolution that he has begun. Earlier this year Danilo gave a speech at the Fashion Futurum conference in Moscow on the occasion of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, and in 2015, Polimoda paid a special visit to the city and St Petersburg.
Pambianco Magazine Russia is a unique media platform on lifestyle, luxury, fashion and design. It is the Russian print edition of the most authoritative and popular online newspaper in Italy, dedicated to entrepreneurs, managers and opinion leaders of fashion and luxury.
The focus of Polimoda, the Florence-based institute is The Future of Fashion is Now, the Future of Fashion Is You. There is a real revolution happening in fashion right now though its consequences are not yet entirely evident. In your opinion, how should fashion schools respond to this situation?
Fashion schools today offer programs and courses with very similar titles. What can make the difference is a curriculum based on experience and not on a pure theory. The second distinction is having an interdisciplinary approach, as in their future careers, current students will probably change their job more often than their parents have done in the past. Finally, the ability of a school to form a strong sense of character in its students is of a crucial importance.
How important is having an international network?
It is vital! We live in the age of globalization and it is important to establish connections with schools that share the same outlook. This is why Polimoda collaborates with Central Saint Martins. Another important element is the alumni network; ex-Polimoda students often support new graduates in their first career steps. 70% of Polimoda is made up of international students who come from 68 different countries. I always tell the students on their first day, “In the future, your classmates may become your colleagues, suppliers or competitors.” When our students achieve success, it makes us all happy and proud. Recently a Polimoda graduate Ksenia Seraya presented her collection at Marcedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, and many of our ex-students also work in the country as buyers or brand-managers.
You have recently launched the Paris Connection. What is this project about?
Linda Loppa was instrumental in the worldwide success of Belgian fashion, and for the past 10 years she has been shaping Polimoda. Now in Paris, Linda continues to work with us. In this city Linda is able to meet with the most influential fashion insiders, attend fashion shows, and identify industry trends. This is a precious communications asset for us. Also, when we organise trips to Paris for our students, Linda acts as a teacher and accompanies them when they visit fashion companies. For example, the Masters students of Luxury Business recently visited Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Céline with Linda.
What are the future international projects?
Polimoda is based in Florence and is an integral part of the culture of the city. This is why we do not open branches of the school abroad. However at the same time, we believe that our expertise can be applied across various fields. For example, Russia currently has a policy of import substitution, creating the perfect environment to develop the local fashion industry that can then find success abroad. Some of the most hyped people in fashion today, Gosha Rubchinskiy and the Gvasalia brothers, come from ex-soviet countries.
More and more often a creative director also needs to have strong managerial skills. How do you prepare students for this?
Polimoda has welcomed the challenge that’s facing the world of fashion education. We have just eliminated the traditional division of two departments: business and design. Now our four-year undergraduate courses, Masters programs and short-term courses crossover four areas: fashion business, art direction, fashion design and design management. This brand new structure allows us to prepare the kinds of hybrid professionals that the industry requires today, and at the same time give a much clearer specialisation to each professional profile.
What are the advantages of your education program?
During our recent Polimoda Fashion Week, we had an amazing audience. The collections by our design students were evaluated by a jury that included Suzy Menkes, Guram Gvasalia, Scott Schuman, Alexander Shumskiy and many others. Polimoda is an innovator in fashion education and an opinion maker in the field. Our focus is The Future of Fashion is Now, The Future of Fashion is You. So the advantages of our education program are experienced by our students; studying at a school like this guarantees access to a career not limited by national borders.
Many brands have started to present menswear and womenswear collections together. What do you think about this revolution?
Fashion is made up of constant changes that often contradict each other. Today we talk about the merger of menswear and womenswear but at the same time Pitti Uomo, which celebrates solely menswear, is gaining popularity. The same can be said of the ubiquitous see now, buy now, where the internet has accelerated decision-making, reducing the ‘I like’ to govern the whole buying system. At the same time, there is strong advocacy for slowing down the creative processe. Fashion schools should never take sides, but rather, be open to discussion and teach students how to anticipate and begin new trends. Two years ago while giving a lecture on Fashion Trend Forecasting, I told my students that heavy metal music would come back in fashion, though my students looked at me as if I were a dinosaur. Today Brioni launched a collaboration with Metallica.