Key Tips from a Student for a Fabulous Back to (Fashion) School

Unexpected and inspiring mantras to kick off the real beginning of the year. With a bonus for the shy


By Giulia Piceni. Cover image: students on the first day of the last Academic Year. Photographs by Virginia Niccolucci.

I have always considered September my official January. There are no fireworks celebrations, but the beginnings during this month are crucial for the seasons to come. The real back to school begins now.
From a fashion enthusiast’s point of view, September is when the world’s most important Fashion Weeks begin. From New York to Milan, the adrenaline rises as we wait to see the latest news on collections online, social media or live. And then there is a wonderful ritual for true fashionistas: the most strategic, cool and glossy magazines come out (ever heard about the cult September issue?), and the Spring/Summer collections inaugurate a new style cycle.
Also, from a student perspective, the academic year also starts: the flavour of candid notebook paper invades the air, and the hope that last-minute in-house parties won’t mess up the study schedule is still high. If the interest in fashion and academic life are combined, it’s clear why fashion students are thrilled for this specific month. 
To be better prepared for this exciting new beginning, here are three things I’ve learned from spending time in school that I wish I could have said to my old self on the first day of her first year. Veteran expertise certified. 


The first thing I want to say is a tip, especially for the shy ones like me. 
One day, the fashion expert heading a school talk said something that completely changed my perception of school life. He declared that even if the creative industry doesn’t pay him as much as he works hard, he still feels rich because money can’t buy the treasure he owns: he was hinting at the human capital. All the connections he had built along his career and colleagues that later became close friends were a sort of big, variegated family to which he was extremely thankful.  
Creative industries are notably contacts-driven, but to know people – the good ones – the ones that add value to your academic experience and will stay around for the years to come are those that you should keep close to. 
Nurture these relationships with creativity, fuel them with mutual inspirations and collaborate when you can: this will pay off in the future. Finding genuine connections based on one’s interest is a big stroke of luck; if the respect is mutual, then that is what I call a privilege. 

Socialization is key and Istituto Marangoni Firenze students know it. Photograph by Virginia Niccolucci.

So put yourself out there, come out of your shell, and let the school’s thrilling atmosphere transform you into the main character you always dreamt of becoming.

Students outside the venue of Istituto Marangoni Firenze. Photograph by Virginia Niccolucci.

Socialisation is a true side job in this industry, so don’t feel guilty about going to that aperitivo with that friend of a friend: you two may become the next power couple of the fashion industry like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. 


Let’s get this straight: it’s a fashion school, not a runway show or America’s Next Top Model’s catwalk. So please do yourself a favour and engrave this in your head: nobody will judge. Nobody cares about what you’re wearing at all most of the time! 

Students’ outfits details. Photographs by Virginia Niccolucci.

But if you feel like overdressing, just go for it. Maybe by looking at one of the pieces of your outfit, a styling student might start obsessing over it and ask you to bring it for their next shoot. Be inspired by the people around you, note details from their fits and always ask yourself why you like things in general: constantly question your choices because this will help you build a stronger taste and knowledge. 

Students’ outfits details. Photographs by Virginia Niccolucci.

If you are not in the mood to dress up, feel free to wear the comfiest outfit without feeling guilty about it. Again, we are here to learn, not to comment or even shame someone’s aesthetic: this school is a safe place for experimentation. Also, with the excuse that Birkenstocks are still trendy, you can’t get the Adam Sandler look wrong: the fashion trends undeniably support your vision. 


Fashion & Art schools don’t have a magic wand to make you into the best fashion designer, curator, artist or whatever you want to become. It doesn’t matter if you take kilometric notes during lessons or have the best grades in your class; it’s not enough to transform you into the show-stopping professional figure you aspire to be. During these almost three years, I have realised through experience that hard work in and out of class is the essential ingredient for academic and work success. 

Students on the first day of the last Academic Year. Photographs by Virginia Niccolucci

To ensure you constantly evolve your knowledge and skills, challenge yourself with out-of-the-box activities: read books even if nobody asked you to, go to exhibitions and get to know people. You must do it for yourself and not to please parents, teachers, or feel superior to your classmates: have a genuine interest in things.

Students on the first day of the last Academic Year. Photographs by Virginia Niccolucci

Students wearing last year’s tote bag. Photograph by Virginia Niccolucci.

Find job opportunities to help you understand what to do once you’re out of school. Cultivate them with perseverance day by day, transform these extras into a part of your routine, and try to sneak those interests that make you feel alive and involved in the industry in your study plan: the additional work you’re doing now won’t go unnoticed, and in the long run, it will allow you to access the job of your dreams.

Fields of Study

You might be interested in…