FLORENCE – On the one hand the classic lines of the Verdi theater, on the other hand the evocative and futuristic forms in the clothes of Laba Firenze. It was a show with strong impact, the one that was performed on Saturday, June 4 at the theater in via Ghibellina on the occasion of Fashion show at the end of the academic year of the Free Academy of Arts in Florence. On stage and among the seats in the stalls, the clothes paraded designed and made manually by the students of the third year of the fashion course, who interpreted the theme of the event in a personal way: “Release” or the rebirth of the post-pandemic.
That collections of 22 young and talented stylists of Italian and Chinese nationality, they highlighted the boys’ feelings, emotions and expectations. During the event, a special moment was also reserved for innovation and new technologies used for fashion: one was actually presented virtual collection of clothes – one for each student – created with the latest generation of software.
On the virtual carpet, they paraded garments in 3D to an increasingly futuristic way capable of overcoming physical and temporal boundaries.
We met the director of Laba in Florence, Domenico Cafassoto take stock of the fashion show and tell about the future prospects of the Academy, which has about 800 members from Italy and abroad.
Let’s start from last Saturday’s parade: a suggestive show, somehow “broken” and marked by strong contrasts. How did you think?
We wanted to create a specific show, in a context that is certainly unprecedented for an art academy. The choice of Verdi Teatret was really spot on: a classic, elegant and guardian of the past, in which we have inserted an innovative, visionary and contemporary show. These two elements – theater and Laba fashion – gave life to an evocative event with a special visual effect. After all, the end of the year fashion show is always a moment the boys are waiting for: their first official debut in front of a large audience. We want it to be unforgettable every time.
The key word in this issue is “Release”, or the rebirth after the health and social emergency from Covid. The boys have shaped their collections based on this input. These two years of pandemic have effectively changed the way students experience the university. What answers do you give to the students’ new needs?
It is true that students’ needs have changed due to the pandemic. The health emergency has marked a kind of “watershed” in the world of education that we can not ignore or leave behind. New technologies have made it possible to bridge the gap in physical distancing, and innovation remains one of the key pillars of the new way of learning and studying.
At the Academy, we are therefore working to improve the use of digital tools even more: I am thinking, for example, of interactive digital handouts, applications for on-site appointments, systems for booking equipment, etc … This is made possible thanks to the parallel preparation of the teaching staff: Teachers, supervisors and partners have made themselves available to participate in refresher courses and preparatory modules for the use of the new applications.
The rigid divisions between art forms no longer exist: expressive languages often merge, meet, and blend. La Laba has always believed in the dialogue between the arts. How do you manage to encourage this confrontation? More generally, what horizons do the teaching at your academy move?
We have always tried to develop projects that combine the skills we have learned in all five of our three-year courses: Fashion, Photography, Design, Interior Design and Painting, in addition to the two-year specialization in Home Design and in Cinema and Audiovisual. We want to create complete and varied experiences for our children. At Laba, there are no “sectors” closed to watertight spaces, but collaborate in the name of creativity.
In general, as mentioned, we invest in new technologies, and we also focus on the so-called “metavers”: a digital facsimile of what we do and live in the physical world, which will more and more closely involve the universe of teaching. In Laba, we have for years addressed issues related to artificial intelligence in the universe of art and design. This new world / no world will now be “furnished” and our students are ready.
There is more and more talk of an imbalance between the competencies that young people can put in place and those that companies actually demand, and of a disruption between education and the world of work. What is your university doing to promote the synergy between these two worlds?
The answer may seem trivial, but in our opinion it is really the key stone in the question: our institute actively cooperates with companies in all sectors of our interest. These are local and national realities, family-run brands and internationally known brands. This allows us to create a real point of contact between students and the labor market.
During internships and seminars – conducted in synergy with temp agencies and professionals in the HR sector – supply and demand meet and influence each other: students have the opportunity to refine talents and skills based on what is required of production and companies on their side can inspire new generations of creatives who provide oxygen to their proposals. In this regard, Laba in Florence has activated a multimedia platform “Job Placement”: a digital tool through which companies can independently search for the best profiles for our students.
How is Laba placed in the context of Florentine territory?
La Laba is twenty years old, so it is a young but constantly growing reality. We have about 800 students from Tuscany and other regions of Italy. 8/10% of our students are foreigners, with an important incidence of young people of Chinese nationality choosing our institution for the way we follow our students: small groups, for a maximum of twenty students at a time, to accompany step by step in the educational process. One of our goals is to strengthen the partnership relations with the various topics in the Florentine territory by organizing cultural initiatives that can show our full potential to the public. After isolation from Covid, there is even more need to go outside our headquarters to “invade”, with creative events, different places in the city and experience real opportunities for confrontation.