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How to prepare for fashion schools?

From concepts to focus on to advice on how to approach your own journey

How to prepare for fashion schools? From concepts to focus on to advice on how to approach your own journey

The French expression «Les jeux sont faits, rien ne va plus», that would be «The games are played, nothing goes anymore», describes the specific moment in which the little ball is moving and the croupier claims it is not possible to make a step back during roulette games. This scenario perfectly sums up how lots of students usually feel in September, on the edge of beginning their path in university. Whether you choose to become a doctor, an engineer, or an architect there is world plenty of people ready to stand next to you, providing you with suggestions whose aim is to encourage. In this way, they enlighten the stages that will lead you to the “work world” year after year, and this should not be taken for granted; actually, whoever is dreaming to work in the fashion field would rarely be this lucky. The field made up of stylists, buyers, producers, PRs, and experts of communication does not respond to strict base – rules and seldomly reveals common dynamics, even among two figures that cover the same role. Furthermore, as far as instruction is concerned, this field is still not considered to be legit in the common though in Italy.

As Olivia Spinelli, Coordinator and Creative Director of IED Moda Milano, told nss magazine, «Fashion is, par excellence, the sphere in which all its power of seduction is entrusted to the image, without (rarely) revealing the great work that lies behind each operation of conception, collection development, and its consequent storytelling. Fashion schools, seen from the outside, can appear as an amusement park, where one can tell one's story and give free rein to one's creativity; on the one hand, students aspire to enter this place of mystery, on the other hand, families view with suspicion a job that bases its success on ephemeral and non-first-rate topics». But anyone who has decided to venture into a Fashion Styling, Design, Buying, Marketing, PR & Communication or Merchandising course without knowing anything other than their own ambitions – and now spends afternoons imagining what the first days, exams and above all lessons will be like – needs to know that their teachers will be at their side right from the start: «It becomes fundamental, as trainers, to spend the first few months in a fashion school explaining the behind-the-scenes step by step, drawing attention to the fact that, a story on IG or a post, made with extreme speed, and with an underlying lightness, have behind them a design thought and often many hours of work», continued Olivia Spinelli, «If it becomes clear to all and sundry that the rules of the game involve commitment, passion and dedication, one can access the "second act" and live this path with pleasure and great satisfaction». If the teachers have expectations, they will aim to see each student grow, in his or her own way: «The thing we hope for, and expect to see, whenever we are faced with a new student or student, is change." In the meantime, the advice is don't be afraid, be curious, never settle... and do everything with a smile on your face».

Fear – of not meeting one's expectations, of disappointing one's family, of not integrating into the environment, or of not having made the right decision – is a natural feeling, and, in schools as in editorial offices, in companies or agencies, it can happen to change direction as much as to launch oneself into another profession. The important thing, however, is to learn from your years as students to get involved, as demonstrated by the story of Carlotta Orlando, Founder and Creative Director of Giglio Tigrato – whose university career at the Politecnico in Milan started with oversight and then turned out to be a great opportunity. «I got my course preferences wrong and after the test, I got into the Fashion Design faculty», Carlotta recounted, «[It was] a drama for me, who at the time didn't want to know anything about fashion and instead hoped to launch myself into [the world of] interior design or communication. In a short time what had seemed like a tragic oversight turned into a great opportunity and [fashion] became a passion. In exactly three years I finished my three-year degree, graduating with a 110». Today Carlotta is at the helm of a project entirely focused on the values of sustainability and up-cycling that has (already) left its mark and, step by step, is conquering Milan: «Two years after my graduation and with a brand like Giglio Tigrato in my hands, I put myself on the line every day, I learn, I fall, I get back up. If I had to advise boys and girls who are about to start a fashion school, I would tell them to always throw themselves into things, without fear and without limiting themselves to assimilating only what they will be taught [in class] because it's not enough; it's never enough».

Also talking about being tirelessly curious and not being afraid is Isabella Terlizzi, who recently graduated in Fashion Business & Buying from the Istituto Marangoni in Milan and now works as Junior Assistant Retail Buyer at Etro. «I think that being curious, being hungry to learn about the [fashion] industry, is the engine that can lead a future student to love this world even more», she said, assuring that such an approach – in researching, informing, studying, then developing critical thinking concerning a specific topic, constantly expanding one's knowledge base. «It always comes in handy when developing concepts and projects during the years of study». Thinking about what she learned during her schooling and which, right from the start, came in handy in her first job as a graduate, she said that she always tried to behave as professionally as possible, based on the meticulous organization of work: «Creating an organized working environment, marked by time, really helped me on numerous occasions during my university years. People often don't think about the amount of work behind each [school] project, so organization becomes vital – otherwise “late nights” are guaranteed! And this same approach to work is helping me even now, in a business context». She added also «that another thing I carry within me is the belief that you have to remain yourself, be true to yourself. I think that, as obvious as it may sound, being able to be yourself is difficult in an environment like fashion, where you are surrounded by charismatic people who can greatly influence those around you. Developing one's peculiarities [makes us] unique, makes individuals stand out in a group; and only personalities with different facets can bring [to a team, to a project] their strengths». So, let the countdown begin.