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True educational punk: Polimoda’s Danilo Venturi

By Marlo Saalmink.

The world is burning. Where should we place our hope? To whom should we turn for solace? If you see things the POLIMODA way; a new generation of creatives is here for us, ready to change the world. This avant-la-lettre fashion institute, hugging the majestic Arno river in Florence has been (re)configuring the fashion system from within. At its helm sits Mr. Danilo Venturi, a well-seasoned reader, writer and brand strategist, who simply does things his own way. So what makes this institute tick: Benvenuto Danilo-san.

TOO OLD TO DIE. Could you tell me about yourself as a young adult?
I am a true child of my generation, I lived my youth in the 90s. Back then it was all about politics, we could breathe the end of the millennium, a slow but hard revolution. In that decade, the world changed completely, from the downfall of the Berlin Wall to globalization and from the arrival of the internet to mobile phones. I remember that I was very passionate about Grunge and Hip Hop, two different musical genres but both rebellious. I always read tons of books, mostly philosophy, and I deeply liked fashion.

TOO YOUNG TO DIE. You are an educator, an instigator. Do you remember the first class you ever taught and what went down here?
I remember it perfectly from the names of my students to the weather that day. I felt honoured to be teaching at Polimoda. Before working in the industry, I also completed a master here. I believe that my strength as a young teacher was precisely that, knowing the students’ point of view. The dialogue between students and teachers is similar to the relationship between Generation X parents and Generation Z children. Now that I think about it, our school really is a big family.

CALLOW. How can we best activate and open young minds that wish to join this industry of ours?
I think you have to be unique to make a difference today, in every domain, whether it’s the industry or school. The advice I can give you to feed your mind is to, first of all, do anachronistic things. For example, stop watching tv series and continuously checking your phone. Start reading physical books and take notes in the margins instead because this will help you elaborate an original thought that goes beyond copy and paste. Or do things in reverse. Another way is to get lost.

SECTIONED. What is the core to the POLIMODA rebellion?
Our formula comes from three main disruptive choices. REBELLION N.1 – We don’t let our qualifications be recognized by the government but instead through collaborations with instigators like LVMH, Richemont, Gucci, Valentino, Ferragamo, Missoni, Vogue Italia and many others. This means we can remain agile as an institute. REBELLION N.2 – In addition to these collaborations we continuously invite mentors and guests from the outside. The dialogue between human beings is always happening. REBELLION N.3 – The school operates as a fashion brand and asks the students to organize fashion shows, events, research and applied projects — even the faces on our website are students.The school is completely driven by the students.

NEO- ACOLYTE. With which attitude should a student graduate at POLIMODA?
All students are different. What really matters to me is for them to develop their personality during school and acquire the skills they need to pursue their jobs. If people have these two attributes, they don’t need to bother other people. They can allow themselves to be fair because they can focus on what they are and can be. I want students to be both daring and demanding in life, but also correct with other people. We don’t need more contrasts in our society.

ONE MORE CHANCE. How can we see the role of the (HI)STORY of Florence?
Florence is beautiful, the quality of life is high, it is well administrated, walkable and safe, and there is so much art and history that you quite literally walk on top of it. All of this beauty can often be a burden though. I feel a great lack of contemporary culture and of the entrepreneurial mindset that derives from it. Creatives must kindle the FIRE of the economy!

NEVERNEVERLAND. If it hadn’t been for directing this wonderful institute, where do would you likely find yourself?
It is weird to even think about this, because life is full of sliding doors…When I finished studying politics in university, I was asked to stay on as a researcher but I refused because at the time I was earning a lot more as a DJ. Through music I entered fashion and through fashion came education. In other words, I ended up doing what I was offered at the beginning. Just think that the founder of La Perla, the lingerie brand I worked for, was originally a heart surgeon. After all, his work has always been about solving problems of the heart…