On 24 June, Istituto Secoli students returned to the ‘Secoli Fashion Show’ runway at Talent Garden in Via Calabiana. The 39th edition of the event most hotly anticipated by the institute’s fashion designers saw collections presented by the young students to a large, enthusiastic audience. The event was backed by Municipality of Milan in addition to some of the most important associations in the fashion industry: Antia, Camera Nazionale della Moda, Iacde, Piattaforma Sistema Formativo Moda and Sistema Moda Italia.
The show’s theme was SENSE, understood as an act of aesthetic feeling, through the interpretation of image captured in a creative narrative. A profound interrogation of the concept of aesthetics, conceived as sensation and intuition, beauty and perception, aiming to culminate in feelings of intimate and sensory satisfaction alongside the ‘beauty of sense’. SENSE leads to the construction of aesthetic environments, each with its own character and temperament. As per tradition, prestigious partners were on hand to support the designers as they brought their projects to fruition. And the show was an in-person event for the first time in two years: “I have no words, the work we have seen on the runway is full of passion, talent, creativity and technical skill,” said Matteo Secoli, Chair of the Institute. “My hope is that you will hold on to the passion and joy that you have expressed in your years at the school with your colleagues from different countries, who all share a love for designing and making fashion.”
The show ended with many of the students being awarded major recognition by the event’s prestigious business partners. These included Federica Bombieri, who was given the opportunity to be interviewed by our editing team and whose creativity we absolutely share. Her responses to our questions are filled with her creativity and passion for fashion.
I have been fascinated by fabrics, threads and buttons since I was a child. I used to spend a lot of time playing dress-up with my friends. And, obviously, I always played the part of the designer. We would grab a few pieces from my grandmother’s or aunts’ wardrobes or a few old sheets, some scissors and safety pins, and I would start making up clothes for my models. Manual skills have always been one of my strengths. As early as primary school, my mother taught me bricolage and basic embroidery, which I would spend whole afternoons doing, getting the creative juices flowing and feeding my curiosity for crafts. Towards the end of middle school, this desire to create gradually turned into a real passion. That’s when I was given my first sewing machine, which I learned to use thanks to my grandmother, who used to be a seamstress, who taught me the rudiments of the trade.
Unfortunately, this passion was just a hobby for my whole time at high school, where I was studying humanities with a view to becoming a schoolteacher. Despite that, however, inside me I knew that I wasn’t destined for that world and that something bigger was waiting for me in creativity and fashion. So while I was at high school, I starting putting aside all the money I could towards realising my childhood dream of becoming a seamstress. I looked up all the schools in Italy that could give me the right kind of training, signed up to newsletters and downloaded lots of brochures. During that period, I spent a lot of time on my sewing machine, making clothes for myself and my family, embroidering and experimenting with artistic accessories made from fabric offcuts that my aunt brought home from work. In the final year of high school, the time came to make an important decision about my future, and I decided to take evening classes in tailoring in Verona, which I attended for a few months. However, because of the high cost of fashion schools on the one hand and my family’s insistence that this passion of mine could only ever be a hobby on the other, I put my dream aside and enrolled on a philosophy degree at the university of Padua. At the end of the first semester, I passed by exams with flying colours and began the second semester convinced I was going to pursue my passion for philosophy and humanities. It was March 2019 when I happened to check my promotions inbox, which I didn’t do very often. I had just come home to Verona for the weekend. After lunch I read the Istituto Secoli newsletter, which I had been subscribed to for about four years, which was promoting grants for its new courses. I immediately imagined taking an exciting trip to Milan, the fashion capital. I turned round, looked at my mother sitting on the armchair, and said, “Mum, I’m dropping out and going to Milan.” She gave me two weeks to think about what I wanted to do with my life, but the next day when I went back to Padua I couldn’t keep my feet on the ground and spent the days imagining the dream I really wanted to chase. So, one day I sold all my books, withdrew from the university and began looking for a job, so that I could save up for school fees. It wasn’t an easy choice: on the one hand my family wanted me to finish my university degree, on the other I felt strongly that my childhood dream could not be just a hobby. Shortly after, I was catapulted into the big city of Milan to study fashion at a school that gave me the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills, from sketching creative ideas, pattern making and tailoring, all the way to the finished piece. My goal has always been to get to know all the interdependent stages of building a collection.
It wasn’t easy during the pandemic. Many lessons went from being interactive, exciting classroom-based to being recorded online videos. This is a practical subject, so I missed the close relationship with the tutors and the in-person feedback. But I didn’t get discouraged, instead I took it as a personal challenge. I have always practised a lot and tried to grab every opportunity as it comes, whether it’s online videos, lecture notes, or the possibility of asking the tutors questions. I often found myself alone in the classroom with a tutor, which gave me a unique opportunity to learn more. I never gave up, my curiosity never waned and my passion enabled me to reach a level I could never have dreamed of when I first enrolled at Istituto Secoli.
My first goal is to finish my thesis on ‘creative thinking’ and how it can influence a fashion collection and beyond. The course has allowed me to nourish and strengthen my passion for everything involving the fashion industry. That is why I am open to anything that will help me use my creativity and expand my technical skills through direct experience. In particular, I would like to work in tailoring or pattern making for a big fashion brand so that I can express my manual skills and passion for crafts.