Radical Authenticity Is Here

Transformation was the buzzword behind the scenes of this year’s graduation show

Radical Authenticity Is Here

Transformation was the buzzword behind the scenes of this year’s graduation show

Sublimation means changing the form but not the essence of something. In physics, it refers to changing the state of matter. The term comes from the Latin “sublimare,” meaning to “lift up” or “raise,” and in Japanese, it is 昇華 (SHO-KA), meaning to change for the better.

At this year’s graduation show at Polimoda, the theme of transformation and metamorphosis took center stage, embodying the “sublimation” of the final year Fashion Design students’ hard work. This transformation of creativity into the expressive flowing matter of fabric unfolded on a catwalk situated in the gardens of Villa Palmieri, an ethereal setting that seemed to transcend nature.

Director of Polimoda Massimiliano Giornetti’s vision for this year’s presentation was “ultra nature.” Through the students’ collections and the chosen location, he aimed to explore the transformation to be found in transcending natural limits. Metamorphosis, a renowned process in nature, also manifests creatively. From idea to research, experimentation, and the final result, the creative process is a transformative journey where both thought and material evolve.

The backstage area at Manifattura Tabacchi was bustling with activity as students made last-minute tweaks, rushed to final styling reviews with Director Giornetti and Fashion Editor and Stylist extraordinaire Serge Girardi. Excitement mingled with a frisson of underlying stress during the final pre-show meeting. After addressing many questions and a “crazy-shoe” debacle, the final year designers were briefed and ready for dressing, rehearsal, and the show.

Massimiliano Giornetti. Photo by Marco Gualtieri
This year, we worked with our Fashion Design students on a profound development of the individual's identity rather than the traditional idea of a collection, encouraging them to create a personal and unique language that is released through fashion design.
Massimiliano Giornetti
Director of Polimoda

On the day of the show, the inside area of Villa Palmieri filled with students, models, tailors, seamstresses and dressers. The atmosphere was positive, energized and focused. The imposing villa set the scene for the most exciting but serious moment of the students’ four-year Polimoda career. This culmination of years of work represented the peak of their creativity, allowing them to be expressive, passionate, strange, astonishing, and eccentric before embarking on their careers—and they delivered!

The first transformation guests encountered was that of the typical Tuscan villa and Italian garden; huge mirrored monoliths towered in front of the villa, reflecting and distorting the surrounding nature. These monoliths, echoing the Land Art of the 1960s and classical references like Pygmalion in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, overshadowed the ordered perfection of the garden and became the “birthplace” of the fashion show. Here, the models emerged one by one, their reflections visible before they were, creating an optical illusion that preceded the real collections in all their texture and movement, moving down the white catwalk under an avenue of linden trees.

Serge Girardi. Photo by Marco Gualtieri
Each collection is a hymn to individuality as well as a personal reflection and point of view on political, sociological, climatic, and anthropological themes. We do not see fashion as an ephemeral form of art, but rather as a powerful communication tool capable of connecting and giving strength to the individual.
Massimiliano Giornetti
Director of Polimoda

The collections were diverse in form, material, shape, texture, color, and concept. From Ian Morris McDonald’s transformation of vintage cycling inspiration into modern menswear silhouettes with movement and drama, to Noé Falchi’s musings on his native Switzerland’s military neutrality; Erin Lewis’ reinterpretation of British sartorial symbols like the flat cap, the three lions, and Nike Air Max 97; Gabriela Blake’s wild experimentation with texture, fabric, shape, and color; Jimena Guzman’s (winning) storytelling of a Caribbean subculture; and Olivia Doose’s exploration of the underground nightlife world and its revolutionary transformation of the self. Post-show comments praised this unbridled expression of self under Giornetti’s creative direction. Jury member Gaia Repossi remarked on the prominence of each student designer’s personality and the contemporary nature of every collection. Stylist Marc Goehring and designer Stefano Pilati lauded the high standard of pattern-making at Polimoda, reflecting the excellence of the Florentine fashion school.

Polimoda Graduation Show 2024 Jury, ph Serena Gallorini
Jury: Giuseppe Angiolini, Marc Goehring, David Koma, Stefano Pilati, Gaia Repossi. Photo by Serena Gallorini
The fashion was generally well-detailed and the concepts well-developed. I congratulate all the students and teachers ... particularly for their mastery in shaping great silhouettes.
Stefano Pilati
Designer and jury member

In addition to the remarkable garments, accessories played a significant role in the show. Gabriela Blake, Ian Morris McDonald, and Luca Polonio designed six pairs of glasses, weighing just 2 grams each, in a special collaboration with Silhouette. This collaboration allowed them to showcase their creativity within the limits of an iconic accessory while gaining valuable industry experience.

Other accessory highlights included Takuya Nishibori’s surreal, floral explosion of a collection enhanced with bags and shoes created with Fashion Accessories Design students; Alberto Giovanni Repetti’s ceramic earrings and necklaces designed with Spore Ceramics Studio; and Verdino Jiquan Liu’s innovative use of fibers from Lanificio Balli to invert and transform usual menswear silhouettes. These collaborations not only highlighted the students’ versatility but also underscored the supportive and integrative learning environment of the last four years.

Polimoda is a place where creativity and individuality thrive, unburdened by external or commercial pressures. Each student’s unique personality is given the freedom to shine, resulting in a relaxed and authentic expression of self that stands out in the realm of the graduation fashion show. This year’s showcase exemplified how the students’ journey at the school has nurtured their talent, encouraging them to push boundaries and transform their visions into something remarkable. In the gardens of Villa Palmieri, amidst mirrored monoliths and an atmosphere of metamorphosis, the students’ collections told powerful stories of personal and societal reflection, reinforcing Polimoda’s commitment to fashion as a profound communication tool.

Designers

Jury

  • Giuseppe Angiolini, Founder, Sugar
  • Marc Goehring, Stylist, Creative Director and Consultant
  • David Koma, Designer, David Koma
  • Stefano Pilati, Founder and Creative Director, Random Identities
  • Gaia Repossi, Creative Director, Repossi

Credits

  • Creative Direction: Massimiliano Giornetti
  • Mentorship: Dan Thawley
  • Styling: Serge Girardi
  • Music: Modes F
  • Hair & Makeup: Santini Academy

Special collaboration

Silhouette

Technical sponsor

Lanificio Balli

Special thanks

Tauras Zemaitis