When it comes to the best fashion schools in the world, Polimoda has secured itself toward the top of the list. And with its latest hire, the Florence-based institute is clearly indicating it has plans to remain ahead of the pack. That's in part thanks to the appointment of its first Head of Fashion Design, Massimiliano Giornetti.
A Polimoda alumnus himself, Giornetti will join the staff this October, bringing with him an impressive resume that most notably includes 16 years at Salvatore Ferragamo, five of which he served as the house's creative director. Giornetti's role at Polimoda is unique — and it's one that Director of Polimoda, Danilo Venturi, says speaks to fashion's future.
"The need to have a figure like this right now comes from the fact that Polimoda's programs always align with the spirit of the time," says Venturi. "We haven't heard much from the mainstream yet, but I bet that the industry will start asking us for creative designers soon, for professionals capable of inventing new products or new things that wow consumers. So, with Massimiliano, we decided to define a new idea of design that has its roots in the know-how of Made-in-Italy, but with a contemporary, global and multi-ethnic cut without cultural and gender barriers."
As Venturi explains it, the appointment of Giornetti will evolve Polimoda's educational purpose. In addition to serving as an internationally ranked school for aspiring designers, merchandisers, stylists and industry leaders, "it will be a sort of maison," he says. With this shift, he explains that students will be prepared to graduate into a challenging retail environment that covets originality and yet is constantly competing with mass and digital merchandisers.
In the short term, Venturi says first-year students will be "more creative right from the start and more focused on the concept of the body" under Giornetti, who will influence curriculum as well as the school's annual runway show and final project for last-year design students. "Collections must be significant, well-finished, and ready to be produced," Venturi adds. "Moreover, Massimiliano will make space for accessories, footwear, and knitwear — some of the fundamental components of fashion that set apart our territory."
While Giornetti's resume makes it clear that he's perfectly suited for this new opportunity, Venturi — who's also a Polimoda alumnus — says his appointment is as much about being qualified as it is about homecoming. "We are interested in giving tools at school, but above all, we are interested in a student developing their personality. We often hire former students as teachers, allowing us to evolve and maintain our philosophy, so Massimiliano was the missing nucleus of our school."
Giornetti is not the only fundamental addition to Polimoda this year: The school will soon open a third campus: Manifattura Tabacchi, in Florence. "It is a cultural landmark, a building going back to the fascist era and now becoming the hotspot for a new generation of creative people," Venturi says. This further illuminates Polimoda’s continued success with merging old and new schools of thought: traditional techniques meet 2019 consumer demands; close ties to storied fashion houses, like Gucci, Ferragamo, and Valentino, meet the creation of new leadership and dedication to sustainability. "I could tell you about our conscious approach to fashion, but talking about sustainability has become unsustainable. Conscious design at Polimoda has always been a precondition to our students, it comes second nature to them," says Venturi simply.
With a current graduate job placement rate of 91%, there's something clearly working within Polimoda's secret sauce. And Giornetti’s addition will presumably only sweeten it. "Speaking as a former student and not as a Dean, I can say that studying at Polimoda is neither just fun nor a big sacrifice," Venturi adds. "It is an investment."