Every year IFFTI‘s (International Foundation of Fashion and Technology Institutes) conference is hosted by one of its member institutions. With over 50 members representing 37 different nations, the conference is renowned for the way it reflects current thinking about fashion education, its relationship to industry and new directions in fashion research. Each conference is defined by the host institution’s selected theme, its relationship to local industry, the histories of that industry, the context of the fashion culture in that part of the world, plus the nature of that institution’s fashion education. All these factors infuse the event with a very particular set of experiences and therefore the conference is never the same twice.
As delegates from all over the world come to debate, discuss, explore and learn from each other so the invited speakers, presentations and papers all provide a new set of very real learning experiences for these fashion educators. This year was no exception. Hosted by Polimoda fashion institution in the City of Florence, the conference themes selected by its Director – the renowned Linda Loppa – were explored by its participants through installations, performances, papers and presentations that took place in 6 venues across the city. Themes of the body, space, calligraphy, craft and imagery were brought together under the umbrella title “Momenting the Memento”.
Florence provided the perfect backdrop. Its Renaissance history has influenced the growth and development of fashion over the centuries, while its architecture, culture, histories and traditions gave IFFTI delegates the perfect space to reflect on where fashion education might go over the coming years. Key points of departure were: technology; fashion’s relationship to cognate disciplines; how to place humanity back into the fashion system; the role of creativity and intention; the methods and methodologies of fashion research; and whether courses need to be broader and interconnected, or more specialised and collaborative.
But, for me, it was fashion’s integration into the fabric of the city that I found so inspiring. From Ou Ning’s installation in the National Library and the performances which took place in all six venues, to LCF’s Art of Dress installation at Santa Croce (see image above), all gave new perspectives on the relationship of fashion and its various meanings and interpretations to a fashion city. This is something I intend to explore further on my return to London.