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November 28, 2019

Istituto Marangoni’s Diana Marian Murek On Transforming Fashion Education

Compiled by Akanksha Pandey

In conversation with the academic director of the International fashion school on shaping the next generation in design.

The pace at which fashion evolves has been famously hard to keep up with. The advent of social media, fast fashion, and newer technologies has left even the savviest of fashion insiders with whiplash. In the midst of unending and drastic changes in the industry, the role of educators and educational institutions in fashion has never been more important.

On the eve of students presenting their annual design collection, Istituto Marangoni’s academic director, Diana Marian Murek talks to Verve about how she’s nurturing the next generation of students.

On the theme of No Boundaries
No Boundaries is a concept that emerged while planning the first Istituto Marangoni Mumbai fashion show [that took place earlier this year]. The show displayed works of the winners of our graduate competitions in Milan, Florence, London, Paris and Shanghai, as well as those of our local second-year students, who will graduate next year. In Mumbai, students competed to become Istituto Marangoni’s 2019 best cross-school fashion designer. The theme No Boundaries was inspired by the diversity of students across Marangoni schools. It also represents the students’ processes while creating their collections – we believe the sky’s the limit, and exploring individual creativity is paramount to their successful future.

On the future of fashion design
The future is authentic design and individuality. The fashion community is in dire need of originality and creativity – the prerequisites for any interesting piece of art. In the past few years, the industry has fallen into a kind of fashion fatigue because of the mainstreaming of ideas and the fast fashion market. What captures my attention is not how beautiful or aesthetically pleasing an item may be, but engaging storytelling, and its relevance in a given space and time.

On introducing students to sustainability
Istituto Marangoni, as a school, considers sustainability to be a fundamental value for the future of fashion. We are acutely aware of our responsibility as educators to disseminate these values to the next generation of fashion designers. We take a number of approaches, from rethinking value systems and consumer behaviour, to exploring new sourcing and production techniques, to the invention of new monitoring systems. We’re discussing these issues not only in our classrooms, but also across our managing boards. We also believe that India will play a huge role in reforming the industry. It has significantly large scales of production and consumption, and is very relevant to the international industry for its supply chain.

On the authenticity of Indian design
I think Indian fashion design is absolutely authentic, and also very distinct when compared to international fashion. Every country that is a global player in fashion has a manufacturing heritage and relies in some form or the other on local, artisanal craftsmanship. But artistic and artisanal are two different things – using artisanal techniques does not imply an original artistic thought, which in my opinion, is the most important job of a contemporary designer. To create fashion design is to capture the zeitgeist. Again, beautiful clothes are one thing, relevant ones are another.

On change and fashion
I started to work in fashion in the late ’90s, at the highpoint of the anti-fashion culture. The ’80s had brought on an explosion of new brands on the fashion market, and each one was spawning two or three more lines of its own. Fashion was equated with a consumerist lifestyle. But the ’90s completely changed this perception. Designers of that era responded with minimalism, de-constructivism and grunge. In order for them to research these ideas at the time, one had to actually set foot in a library, or undertake primary research in vintage markets. It was harder to come up with ideas, because it involved time-consuming physical effort. But your findings were sure to be genuine and unique, and not available to everyone on the same platforms as they are today (Pinterest, Instagram etc.). Everything has changed since then. Fast fashion has risen, and social media is the beginning and end of research for most designers.

On technology and fashion
Fashion needs technology to find the answers to many questions on sustainability. It’s also fundamental to the development of areas such as sportswear, outdoor and leisure wear. In terms of design, technologies like 3D printing can bolster creative ideas, as we’ve seen in the work of Mary Katrantzou or Iris van Herpen. It could also be useful in developing pattern-making software that would reduce time and cost.

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