By Giulia Piceni. Photographs by Virginia Niccolucci.
That excitement mixed with a longing for self-effacement; the desire to make new friends and stand out from the crowd goes hand in hand with the terror of taking the floor in any conversation. The energy spent creating the perfect outfit is blown away as soon as a stranger starts some basic interaction: this is the first day of school for most of us, especially the shy ones.
I experienced many first days in my life, and yes: all the previous beginnings looked pretty much like that. But this year, something has changed: a one-of-a-kind event took place on September 26th at Istituto Marangoni Firenze. The Welcome day event aimed to create spontaneous and genuine connections among newcomers and experienced students.
The new students were invited to meet with “staff members for a day”. By asking questions to more experienced students, the newcomers had a glimpse of life at Istituto Marangoni Firenze and what it means to join the school’s projects (including I’M Firenze Digest). All that while being interviewed and photographed by Multimedia artists and getting tips on the Florence lifestyle, academy life and more.
If faculty members held foundational academic orientations then, these informal connections between students gave life to bonds that may last in the upcoming academic years.
Getting into Istituto Marangoni has always been an aspiration for me; this dream came true last year. At first, I thought that this craving for belonging to this specific institute was driven by the school’s prestige, its links to the fashion industry and the allure that sets it apart.
Only at the beginning of the current academic year did I realise that it was because of the sense of community and shared vision that all the institute members follow.
Everybody, from students to tutors, strives for the best in their practice, a passion before being labelled a duty. Being driven by ambition and the desire to contribute to the world of creativity combined with attention to aesthetics and style could be a definition of the attribute that distinguishes those attending lessons in the building on Via De’ Tornabuoni. This is what insiders define as “Marangoniness.”
While introducing the school and presenting its unique features, I felt – and my colleagues can testify to this sensation – a strong sense of belonging. We students from Arts Curating and Multimedia Arts were proud to be part of the community and actively participate in the event as temporary “staff members” for a day. The event reinforced this sense of connection and closeness to our school, which we were proud to share with the new students.
THE NEW FACES
The Welcome day activities allowed me to find new synergies and get to know new inspiring people.
One story that caught my attention was from Connor Kamineski and Ethan Zmurchik: friends since forever and sharing a passion for fashion, they decided to move together to Florence from Canada to study Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni Firenze. Both with a street-style aesthetic and a love of DIY, shown in the self-taught art of sewing, they say that even the smallest print is a strong style statement.
Another person that couldn’t go unnoticed for her welcoming smile was Johanka Zetova. A starter to the three-year Fashion Styling programme, she has already collaborated as a stylist for a photoshoot starring We Are Dome, the Czech trio at the Eurovision song contest in 2022. “I was in the right place at the perfect moment,” she says as if she needed to justify the talent that made her stand out and get selected for the job.
Johanka wants to make this passion her career, and she thought that Istituto Marangoni would give her the tool to unlock her bright future. We can’t do anything except wish them luck and encourage those promising students to cultivate their skills, sure that one day they’ll succeed.
Is there anything better to end the day than a nice aperitivo in good company? After presenting the school, discussing and asking for advice, all the new students were invited to have a drink in one of the locations on Via de’ Tornabuoni. On grey sofas and under parasols that protected them from the thin rain that evening, there were groups of people harmoniously chatting and enjoying each other’s company.
Nobody felt excluded from the conversation; there was a cheerful vibe, the ice was broken, and with the help of a nice glass of spritz or prosecco, waves of laughter filled the courtyard until the stars appeared in the sky.
I wish all my previous first days were like this one.
Giulia Piceni is a student in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.