Alexandra Higaki is a student at the College of Charleston and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy.
I’ve known since the age of eleven what career field I wanted to be in. The arts beckon to me, and I am defenseless against their siren’s call. To be more specific, fashion is where I see myself flourishing. However, droves of people, people of every age, background, and ability, can make that same assertion, so how does an aspiring fashion maven set herself apart?
Studying abroad in one of the birthplaces of luxury fashion is a good place to start. Italy is home to numerous lauded designers, from Guccio Gucci to Miuccia Prada to Valentino Garavani. Indeed, many of their designs have been influenced by Florence, Milan, and Rome—the designers’ respective cities of birth and founding locations of their fashion empires. Because the Renaissance began in Italy, the country boasts a remarkable artistic history that has been a source of inspiration to designers for centuries; many have even incorporated the area’s unique landmarks into their shows. For example, Fendi’s Autumn/Winter 2017 Haute Couture collection was held at Rome’s Trevi Fountain—a fountain in which Fendi had invested over $2 million in 2013 for restoration purposes. Italian fashion is truly inseparable from the location itself.
It is this authentic quality—crucial to understanding luxury fashion—that sets studying fashion in Italy apart from studying in some other location. I am taking an apparel design course, and I am able to actually walk the streets that have and continue to inspire designers at the top of the industry. I am in one of the few places that can claim to be at the fore of influencing luxury fashion worldwide. I can confidently speak about the curving architecture of grandiose Roman churches that so inspired Valentino’s collections and the rust-colored rooftops of Florence that inspire Roberto Cavalli. Not only can I speak of these things, but my words also have a certain authority to them as well; I have truly experienced the vibrant images that my words are painting. Being able to speak with both authenticity and authority is a marketable skill.
Not only am I immersing myself in the places so many people I admire have been inspired by, Italy is also influencing my work. It’s a rush of sunbaked colors; a flurry of beautiful faces; a whirl of Gothic, Renaissance, and Byzantine architecture. By sheer volume of designs, the Lazio region alone is honing my sketching abilities. As an artist, being surrounded by this sort of electricity is like downing a triple espresso before 8 a.m. everyday…In the best possible way.
I cannot possibly hope to learn all of Italy’s artistic history in a single summer; I’m not sure anyone could in an entire lifetime. But I am trying to absorb everything I can, because knowledge of both Italy’s past and the present is an excellent way to become more credible in my career field.
The world awaits…discover it.