By Giulia Piceni. Photographs by Luca Esposito.
It was relatively early in the morning, but the cigarette trash can at the entrance was already full, as proof that many young designers used nicotine as the go-to anxiety painkiller, trying to cope with the pressure of the day one puff after the other. Climbing to the first floor, I could smell the thrill through the corridors after the flowing of a silk taffeta skirt and the rattling of beads rubbing against each other.
Fitting days are the event at Istituto Marangoni Firenze. All the students, whether coming from Styling, Business or even Art courses, are abuzz with it.
During breaks between classes, instead of going downstairs for fresh air on Via De’ Tornabuoni, it’s not rare to see them blocking the traffic between the toilets and the Administration Office on the first floor, with the art classroom – room 104 – being the focus of their attention.
ROOM 104: WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS
I quickly glanced through the glass door and saw the Director of Education, Francesca Giulia Tavanti. After I tremulously asked to come in, she waved at me to reach her inside. I got into the fittings in the middle of the final review of a collection titled Cabaret “Nep”, inspired by a series of Soviet films and featuring a dark palette of black and forest green velvets paired with houndstooth and lace.
Once I crossed the threshold of the notorious 104 room, I stayed a little on the door since Tutor Esposito was taking photos of the overall collection, and I didn’t want to get into the pictures. Six female models stood before me, where the easels for painting classes are usually placed. Looking fiercely towards the camera, they were gracefully wearing a mixt of sheer garments accompanied by corseted-like bustiers.
After a few more clicks of the camera, I headed towards a quieter area next to the big white desk on which various mood boards, the sketchbook and the technical drawings of the garments from Clo3D were displayed. The printed material was essential to present as it showed the designer’s commitment to the collection concept and testified to the progress made over the year.
THE INS AND OUTS
One student after another came into the room, accompanied in some cases by Styling students planning to shoot editorials with their collections. Once inside 104, the young designers were ready to have their work carefully analysed by Tutors Miguel García Abad, Paulo Anderson Melim and Stefano Peloso, who, during the fitting, even provided styling tricks and garments variations to emphasise a specific piece rather than hiding it.
The teachers’ remarks went from congratulating the students for the work done and their aesthetic and conceptual development to telling them off for getting to the final selection with prototypes on toile. Presenting six complete outfits was the bare minimum to have a chance to be accepted for the End of the Year Fashion Show, the point of contention for all the young designers, being it the crowning of their Fashion education journey.
A missing outfit or an incomplete garment and you’re out: the rules are ruthlessly strict and apply to everyone. Only ten of them will eventually make it to the shortlist and get to showcase 6 outfits each at the final show. It may seem like a cool-blooded competition, but the students are actually cheering and pushing each other to do their best, transforming a highlight of their Fashion student life into a fruitful exchange of thoughts between peers.
THE VITALITY OF FITTINGS
Emblematic of the feverish curiosity that overwhelms people during fitting days, the students caught peeping out of the door were eventually allowed in by the Director of Education to participate silently. My turn to watch the show unfold was over: time to make room for others. I left the quiet room just to be plunged again into the thrill of the corridors, seeing the next collection waiting just outside the door.
It would be a pity to give away the preview of the incredible garments I admired in room 104 with a detailed description: I’ll spare that information for the End of the Year article instead. Through unique menswear collections and hyper-feminine platforms along with daring cut-outs, the only vague hints I can give is that the fittings brought out the designers who fuelled their collections with a strong visual identity, who prioritised the quality of garments and textiles without compromising on creativity. That’s all I can say to get you eagerly waiting for June 13th!
Giulia Piceni is an undergraduate Arts Curating student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Luca Esposito is a photographer and Tutor of Photographic techniques at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.