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Istituto Marangoni CEO Stefania Valenti: “Challenge yourself constantly”

By Esther Hut


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For the first time in its 80-year history Istituto Marangoni, the school of fashion, design, and art, appointed its first female chief executive. With more than 4,000 students of 107 different nationalities spread across three continents, Stefania Valenti will manage the entire Marangoni Group. Valenti started this year in her new role with big plans, but at the moment they are facing a critical time during the coronavirus outbreak. FashionUnited recently spoke to Valenti, about the future plans of the institute and why Istituto Marangoni has ranked again in the top 10 Best Fashion schools in the world.

You were appointed as the first female chief executive in the 80-year history of the school. How does that feel and how is everything going so far?

” It is first and foremost an honour to be leading Istituto Marangoni, one of the first schools to make great strides in fashion and a group that keeps its commitment to excellence, at multiple levels, constant. Being the first woman to do so is a great responsibility as well as an invaluable opportunity to represent all the excellent female professionals populating this industry. Things so far have been proceeding, needless to say, we’re in the midst of a critical time but the aim is to respond with a rational and creative approach to this crisis, setting an example and keeping up with challenging development goals. In fact, we were the first school in the fields of Fashion and Design that, in early February, responded promptly and chose to offer all courses via e-learning, as well the open days via We Chat in Shanghai. This allowed us to be ready when having to face the closure of other schools across the globe. We are therefore able to guarantee the continuity for all academic activities worldwide and to offer all our students safe access to education.

You have a lot of experience in the fashion industry. What made you decide to take the role of MD of a fashion educational institution?

” Education is key and it’s stimulating to be managing a Group that, in a way, operates right at the roots of the future fashion industry, while shaping the fashion professionals of tomorrow. I am eager to put all the information and know-how gained through my previous commitments into this new role, hoping to offer an experienced perspective on the fashion business and inspired by our young and prepared faculty and students too. Furthermore, an educational institution is always working on many new projects and conversations, providing new angles on the fashion discourse.”

This year the school is again ranked in the top 10 Best Fashion schools in the world. What do you think distinguishes Istituto Marangoni?

”We have indeed been able to secure a great position within the global fashion school ranking and this is a success not only for the school but also for our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Our philosophy and process of creating success stories come from an amalgamation of our Italian heritage that we have been able to convert into the contemporary world with 9 Schools dotting the globe (in Milan, Firenze, London, Paris, Miami, Shenzen, Shanghai, and Mumbai), keeping up with the requirements of the fashion industry nowadays.”

What do we need to know about Istituto Marangoni?

”It is important to know that Istituto Marangoni has a worldwide presence (9 schools on three continents) and offers a wide variety of professional courses that help each and every student to grow into successful individuals. Training in key sectors (such as design, communication, and managerial coordination), the schools guide the finest creative minds in these industries turning into the talent that the world will notice.”

” Istituto Marangoni has developed a “talent centric approach”, this means that we want to encourage them to become protagonists within the fashion system. We are connected with fashion and luxury players worldwide and work constantly alongside them. This allows us to offer our students not only factual projects but also unique opportunities for their future. According to IPSOS, one of the most prestigious international research companies, 97,4 percent of Istituto Marangoni’s graduates in 2017 found a job within one year from their graduation. This is, for me, the best goal achieved by our schools.”

What are the plans for this year? Any new things coming up?

”Despite the present situation, we’re still focusing on expanding our network of schools abroad and on speeding up the digitalization process that covers all the different educational and business areas of the Group. Moreover, this year sees the celebration of the 85th anniversary of Istituto Marangoni and we are therefore implementing some ad hoc activities related to this special anniversary.”

Do you have any tips for future students who want to study at Istituto Marangoni?

”We are always enthusiastic about newcomers into our schools and we encourage the energy from younger generations. My main tips would be: challenge yourself constantly, as this is the best way to build adaptive skills, which are so essential in the creative industry.”

”Keep an open mind as well as an analytical approach always, and welcome obstacles as opportunities to grow stronger; this really is key. The fashion industry is undoubtedly quick and ever-evolving, so being up-to-date and informed is also vital. Lastly, passion fuels everything and discipline is the asset you need to make all these ingredients come together - so follow your interests and deliver on time.”

Image: courtesy of Istituto Marangoni

Fashion Education
Istituto Marangoni
Stefania Valenti