Cortona Blog

Our study abroad students share their personal experiences in Cortona. From the plane ride to the universities and from the monuments and museums to the seaside, you'll hear first-hand details of their Cortona adventures.

  • La Moda in Cortona

    April 23, 2020

    Students studying Italian fashion at the UGA Cortona program made their way down the mountain

  • Italian Aristocrats and Appearance

    April 23, 2020

    The UGA fashion students studying in Cortona, Italy this Fall made a visit to Mocenigo Palace

  • Sweet Like Sugar

    April 23, 2020

    As you walk down Corso Italia, a variety of haute couture stores line the street.

  • Fashion Blog

    April 23, 2020

    One could feel the influence of fine detail all around the space.

  • Planting of the Gucci Garden

    April 23, 2020

    The Gucci Garden was the first stop for the fashion students’ experiential learning activities.

  • Advice from a designer

    April 23, 2020

    The UGA fashion students studying in Cortona this fall welcomed an Italian designer.

  • Visit to Mely’s

    April 23, 2020

    Visit to Mely’s, one of the world’s most important knitwear companies

  • Prato knows Production

    April 23, 2020

    The UGA Cortona Fashion students visited the city of Prato

  • person teaching students


    April 23, 2020

    Many factors go into a show like the music

La Moda in Cortona

April 23, 2020

Written by: Daniela Rico

Photos by: Michelle Morguarge

Students studying Italian fashion at the UGA Cortona program made their way down the mountain where the campus stands to the center of the old medieval town of Cortona. In the narrow alleyways of the stone buildings, students were met with a steep set of stairs that would lead them into an old fashion cellar that was once used to store wine and cheese. The history of the building ages back thousands of years but where the delicacies were once aged, now stands glass cases with extravagant pieces of jewelry as well as custom made shoes lining the walls all by the designer DelBrenna. 

Upon entering the students were greeted with glasses of Prosecco sprinkled with shimmering flecks of edible silver as employees Lucia and Bailey shuffled everyone in. The owner, Sebastian DelBrenna, addressed the students briefly to share his long history of jewelry making as both his father and grandfather practiced the trade. The importance of family is spread throughout the intimate venue as pictures of his father handcrafting chains hung on the stone walls. 

The store's main stylist Lucia and sales associate Bailey, a former UGA graduate, shared with the group what the company stands for and the guidelines it follows to ensure the happiness of every guest that ventures down under the main square. As different pieces decorate the space, Lucia takes out a silver chain and passes it around for everyone to admire. The story behind the chain goes back to Sebastian's father, Massimo DelBrenna, who handcrafted the complex chain. The signature chain is now patented by DelBrenna and has become their symbol of authenticity in Italian craftsmanship. While the chain made its way around, the students were able to personally hold the necklace and notice its fine detail. 

Lucia then starts to explain what exactly her job is as the main stylist in the store. "It's all a special experience and we want people to feel like they're friends and not customers." The shop opens its doors to private events for small groups like mothers and daughters or even larger groups like a wedding party or a family event. Lucia then works with them to see what exactly they're looking for by showing them examples in the store or on the website, but also helps them create new pieces that are unique to them. 

DelBrenna doesn't just specialize in fine, handcrafted jewelry, but also designs high-end shoes of all sorts. Lucia passed around a couple of velvet heeled pumps with their signature chain adorning the front of the shoe. Every pair was different whether it was a bow tied on the front or a pair with the heel shaped like the Eiffel Tower. DelBrenna specializes in not only quality, but in one of a kind designs. 

To end the visit, Lucia and Bailey put the students to the test with a styling challenge. The students were divided into two different groups and each were assigned a dressed mannequin. One group had to style their mannequin for a job interview while the other group had to style their mannequin for a social event like a wedding. The store was gracious enough to open the cases in the store and all the jewelry was fair game to use for the challenge. Lucia set a timer for 5 minutes as the students rushed to grab delicate pieces from around the store. In the end, Lucia and Bailey praised both teams for putting careful thought into their final decisions. As parting words, Lucia left the students with some advice about not worrying too much about the latest trends or the rules of fashion, but rather wear what makes them feel strong and confident.


Italian Aristocrats and Appearance

April 23, 2020

Author: Michelle Morguarge

The UGA fashion students studying in Cortona, Italy this Fall made a visit to the Mocenigo Palace-Museum during an excursion in Venice. Like Venice, the Mocenigo had much to offer. The museum is known for its extensive collection of textiles and costumes alongside a library of aromas utilized in perfume. The Mocenigo provided the students a glimpse into the grandiose lifestyle of seventeenth and eighteenth century Italian aristocrats.

The palace itself illustrated the importance of status and outwardly appearance during this time. The rooms were decorated with the same type of lavishness that characterized the eighteenth century for Venetian noblemen. Italian blown glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling and Italian fabric draped from the tips of the tall windows down the ground. Walking in, one certainly felt like they were entering an aristocratic expanse. From living to dining areas, it was clear that careful consideration went into the design of these spaces.

As dress can also speak to status, students took time to observe and appreciate the attire on display. One room housed a spectacular collection of vests draped on mannequins. For a Venetian nobleman at that time, to wear an embellished suit was to openly convey themselves of members of high society. The level of detail Italian fashion is known for was also clearly displayed in gowns and other apparel accessories throughout the exhibit. Students were able to expound upon conversations had during class about what Italian craftsmanship meant then and what it means today.

Aristocrats also saw importance in one’s scent. The Mocenigo provided a picture into a perfume maker’s lab, showcasing a breakdown of the raw materials used to create a desirable perfume scent. Perfumes were as essential as any other accessory at that time. As water for bathing away stench was not always readily accessible, perfumes were another sign of high status as a way of concealing one’s scent with a more pleasant one. Available for interaction was a variety of items that are commonly used in perfumes because of the distinct aroma they possess. Some of the scents included were Vanilla, Rose, Cinnamon and many more.

During a backstage tour, museum curator, Chiara Squarcina led the fashion students on a tour of the museum’s collection of antique garments. Wearing gloves to protect the garments, Squarcina showed the students some of the most notable items the Mocenigo had collected over the years. Students were even able to observe up close a piece of with an antique that dated before B.C.E. The Moncenigo holds a world famous collection including dresses, shoes, textiles, and accessories such as handheld fans. Students saw corsets and shoes that spoke to the condition of body image centuries ago. There was much desire to be seen even if it meant pulling one’s waist beyond measure or standing on shoes comparable to stilts.

Chiara reinforced concepts being discussed in the students’ fashion classes concerning the relevant information that historical dress preserves.  The stellar quality of the ancient garments displayed at the archives speaks to the careful handling of the Mocenigo Museum and its curators.


Sweet Like Sugar

April 23, 2020

By: Daniela Rico

Photos: Michelle Morguarge

As you walk down Corso Italia, a variety of haute couture stores line the street, but what if you could shop all the major brands in one place while sipping cocktails and feeling like your most special self? Well, that's what Sugar aims to achieve on a daily basis. The UGA Cortona fashion students were able to experience a small aspect of that at Arezzo's most well-known multi-brand store.

Fashion is no longer just a tangible object, it can be described through animate characteristics. Brands have an identity, an image and even a personality that special to just them which allow you to recognize them. The brand's identity speaks on its values, what they care about, whether that's sexiness, lifestyle, freedom etc. While the brand's image is more tangible through logos and iconic patterns and textiles, the personality of the brand is equally as important as it's portrayed through emotions such as sass, quirkiness or loudness. It's these attributes that allow stores like Sugar to be successful.

Sugar resides in Palazzo Lambadi, a 17th century restored building and has had its doors open for the public for about 30 years. The entrance of the building immediately attracts your eye with the clean cut all-white aesthetic and shining neon signs posted throughout the hallways. Next to the fully stocked bar with cocktails and coffee, there are a variety of art-like exhibitions of pop-culture like movies and music references. Alongside the exhibits are carefully selected clothing that include a variety of brands such as Adidas, Gucci, Fendi, Versace and many more. As the students head up to the second floor, they are met with the store manager, Margherita Saldi, who speaks to them about what it takes to run a store like Sugar.

As a store manager who has been working there for 15 plus years, Saldi does it all from the interior design of the building to the constantly changing displays around the store that narrate different stories with a variety of brands. Fashion is not a stagnant concept, so change has to spark a sense of creativity and inspiration. The displays reflect current trends and pop-culture such as movies and bands. Since the store houses a variety of brands, the display of each brand has to stand out in one way or another, and that can be done by highlighting different attributes of the brand. One of the displays currently in the store is Valentino and it has a long black dress with the iconic red detailing and the actress Tilda Swinton printed on it. The display stood out from the rest as it also had Valentino fashion books opened to interesting and complicated photographs.

Apart from just trying to sell luxury items, what Sugar is attempting to do is sell the customer a lifestyle, a sense of authenticity, while providing a novelty experience. From the people who work there to the mix of well-known and amateur designers on display, Sugar is creating an experience different from just going window shopping in a variety of places.

As the visit wraps up, students ask Saldi what it takes to be in this part of the fashion industry. Apart from emphasizing education and experience, she makes a point to say that "fashion is a feeling, and if you want to make it in the fashion world, you have to work for passion, never for money."

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Fashion Blog

April 23, 2020

By: Michelle Morguarge

Photos: Daniela Rico

Upon arrival at the Arte & Ricamo embroidery factory in Cortona, Arezzo Province, one could feel the influence of fine detail all around the space. The UGA Cortona Fashion students were greeted with blown-up graphics of the lace and sequins lining the walls. Piero Succo started the tour by discussing how ‘Arte & Ricamo,’ which translates to ‘Art & Embroidery,’ holds over thirty years of experience working with high fashion brands. The thirty-two person staff serve a variety of clientele--including long-standing relationships with luxury brands such as Pucci, Versace, and many others.

The fashion students had the opportunity to walk through the facility as usual production was occurring. Walking through the machinery space, Succo explained how the embroidery machines had to be programmed to perform specific functions. A typical Versace embroidered shirt order is about 1,000 pieces. This amount, he explained, was considered to be a fairly large amount when talking about high fashion. The machine could take one hour on a design for a shirt, and will take a few days to get through the process entirely. To their delight, students saw a finished Versace sequin embroidery still laying on the machine, waiting for the next part of the process.

The entire embroidery process starts at the computers. Using a program specialized for embroidery, programmers essentially create a set of instructions for the machine to follow. The instructions are then sent to the machines, and the outcome is tested before an entire order is filled. A record of steps in the process are kept on the computers--from mood boards to final product. They make portions of a dress, for example, but do not see the final product until it is on the runway.

 In response to a question asked by a fashion student, one employee shared that to get to where she is today, she attended art and fashion institutes as a prerequisite. However, she felt that she has learned the most once she started working in the field and gaining hands-on experience.

The facility has worked on purses and shoes, but their main product continues to be apparel. When an order from a designer is placed, the facility is given usually around a month for production. A brand, such as Chanel, sends a concept, Arte & Ricamo produces a mock up, and Chanel then chooses the mock up they feel best matches their original vision. A first sample, however, may be asked of them within the same day.

The students learned how during fashion week, especially the embroidery facility can become extremely busy as deadlines tend to be very tight. With optimism, Succo explained that “if it has to be done, it has to be done!”

Attention to detail was a factor of clear importance at Arte & Ricamo, especially in working with delicate fabrics like silk. Succo shared how the embroidered items are dry clean only, as a hand wash will stretch the fabric and loosen the embroidery. While we were walking around the factory, employees were seen carefully attaching finished embroideries to their respective pieces, proudly displaying their craft.

As the students have been discussing in their fashion courses, the concept of “Made In Italy” is one that relies heavily on the concept of maintaining a very high standard of quality work. Arte & Ricamo have successfully built reputations with brands that they work with. How they achieved this has to do with the fact that designers share their name because Arte & Ricamo is known to produce quality items. Succo emphasized the importance of word of mouth for quality and focusing on building a strong human-brand relationship.

Succo has been working with Arte & Ricamo for fifteen years, and enjoys the everyday challenges he faces within his field. Concluding the tour, he shared with the students that to get into the apparel industry, “you need great passion, creativity-- finding new ideas and being able to gain experience and background, as well as knowledge of the technique.”

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Planting of the Gucci Garden

April 23, 2020

Author: Michelle Morguarge

The Gucci Garden was the first stop for the fashion students’ experiential learning activities during our trip to Florence. Florence is known as the heart of the Renaissance, therefore, it is a fitting location for the Italian brand’s showcase. Guccio Gucci, the founder of the brand, was himself a Florentine, and his brand oozes the spirit of the Renaissance since its conception in 1921. Gucci has been sharing their heritage in this 12th century palazzo, on the world famous Piazza Signoria, in the close proximity of the Uffizi Galleries, since 2011.

Gucci is a successful and well-known Italian brand. The brand is known for its high quality craftsmanship and innovative fashion and leather goods.

Vanessa, the group’s tour guide shared how the fashion and art exhibitions in the Garden are frequently changing, therefore, the term “museum” for the space was too stagnant.  “Gucci Garden” implies growth and change. That is why they feature different artists and pieces as seasons change. Although this “garden” does not have plants, the Gucci Garden does employ tenders. The guides wear linen Gucci garb consisting of an over-sized unisex jacket and pants set that, as it was explained to the students, depicts their employees as the “tenders of the Garden.”

The displays in the Garden highlighted some of Gucci’s most iconic moments within the fashion industry. Evening gowns and jackets worn by Hollywood’s best shimmered under spotlights. The students were in awe as they gazed upon the fine details embellishing various Gucci classics.

One of the rooms housed vintage leather trunks. The trunks were featured in colorful sets. Some covered in timeless Gucci prints, some featured the classic Gucci green and red stripe, while others were made of high quality, durable leather. On the wall, next to these items, we could detect Gucci’s leather goods coat of arms. Although these trunks were heritage items, they still resembled items Gucci sells today, emphasizing that connecting the present and the past is one of the priorities of the brand.

Another room held a jacket embellished with the initials of Sir Elton John. The jacket is displayed as a symbol of the strong relationship between the brand and the musician, which resulted in a collaborative fashion line in 2018.

As art was an essential part of the Italian Renaissance, the Garden finds it important to display murals made by modern artists that conceptualize some of the social positions embraced by Gucci. The students were able to admire and interpret ‘‘Il Maschile – Androgynous Mind, Eclectic Body,” a mural that was commissioned for the Garden by Alessandro Michele---the brand’s openly gay creative director.

 The piece features an array of boldly outlined nude bodies proudly displaying a variety of sexualities. The work depicts different types of people, some even with disabilities and highlights the importance of acceptance and peace.  The students were mesmerized by the contrast of the white paint against the black wall, which aided the piece’s message: no one should be excluded and left in the shadows any longer.

This art piece paired well with the next showcase of Gucci’s genderless fashion items. Gucci has been exploring fluidity within its lines for quite a while. The display was suggesting that Gucci is keen on reaching out to a wider market. At this point, the students were provided with the opportunity to ask Vanessa questions and discuss what the brand’s move towards more genderless pieces meant for brand equity.

Within the Gucci Boutique, which followed the showcase, it was clear that heritage was factored into the interior design of the space. In fact, the boutique perfectly matched what people think of when they think of Gucci. The patterned mannequins and furniture are odes to the artistic wallpapers found elsewhere in Florence. Although not open at the time, the Garden also houses a cafe and meeting area that is open to the public.

During the visit, the students were able to see both the historic and contemporary facets of Gucci. The brand’s choice of what to display shows that they want to be known as a classic brand that appreciates and often pulls from its heritage, yet it is not afraid of modernization.


Advice from a designer

April 23, 2020

Author: Michelle Morguarge

The UGA fashion students studying in Cortona this fall welcomed an Italian designer to their Italian Fashion class this past Friday morning. Francesca Capaccioli has worked as a designer in the fashion industry for many years. She designs clothes as well as bags and shoes. She originally got involved in fashion because of her childhood appreciation for the craft. Her childhood zeal led her to study at a fashion school. After graduation, she gained industry experience working for an important Italian brand, Ermanno Scervino, for over a decade. She became a freelance designer after that opportunity.

Currently she works as a stylist and independent designer. Generally, she is contacted by various fashion firms that know of her work through word of mouth to design or style for a brand or celebrity photoshoot. This means that her life is spent between Milan and a small town where she runs her business not far from Cortona.

 Francesca works with a variety of fashion companies at the same time. No wonder, she emphasized the importance of knowing different markets. When a designer knows multiple markets, it becomes easier to make decisions during the design process. She referred to the design process as almost a sort of psychology. A conceptual decision as simple as combining a winter material with a material typically utilized in the summer can make a significant difference in the end product. Francesca shared how “[with design] there is nothing purely seasonal, everything has been done in the past and you have to try something else to stand out.”

 In the midst of a busy work schedule, Francesca graciously brought her personal brand’s first collection of purses for the students to see and feel. Her newly founded brand offers multi-use, large bags for both leisure and everyday use. The students delighted in the functionality of the bag and noted how a laptop, and much more could be placed in the bag with ease. The bags come in a range of materials, including durable Italian canvas and velvet, another traditional Italian fabric, in a variety of colors.

 Francesca discussed why she prefers to work with accessories such as bags and shoes. She said with these there is no issue of sizing, so people are more likely to try something outside of their comfort zones. Stepping outside of the box in terms of colors and designs is easier with accessories, that is why these aspects are so important for a designer to consider. She said that when one wears a fashionable, head to toe black outfit, they can choose to wear a funky pair of shoes with it or some flashy or brightly colored jewelry.

 Much of Francesca’s work focuses on drawing contrast between materials and colors. One of her latest designs a bucket style handbag that is part black leather and neutral colored raffia was featured on the front page of the prestigious fashion magazine, Elle. She revealed that as a designer she gets her inspiration mostly from music, old Hollywood and Italian films, and nature. These appear to affect her mood and jumpstart her creativity. She pointed out that she also often uses artwork as inspiration and that one of her muses was Sonia Delaunay, the well-known French textile designer.

Professional and personal connections are important for Francesca’s work. For example, she often uses her Cortona friend’s luxury house for lavish fashion shoots. She underlined that online as well as personal connections are key when trying to build a brand. She also shared that she finds it important to observe and learn from other people, especially people different from herself. Francesca utilizes what she learns and experiences and finds a way to mesh styles within her work. 

After we were able to ask her questions about the industry, the job of a stylist, fashion shoots and her design philosophy, Francesca left the students with a word of advice. She said that she “works for herself and not for the goal of fame.” She went on to tell the students that “[they] have to work hard, and work hard within the field “and be passionate about what they are doing.


Visit to Mely’s

April 23, 2020

Writer: Michelle Morguarge

Pictures: Daniela Rico

The UGA Cortona fashion students were greeted warmly as they entered the main headquarters of Mely’s Maglieria. Located  in the proximity of Arezzo, one of Tuscany’s main commercial centers, one could not miss the high tech, mirrored glass exterior of the building. Maglieria translates knitwear, which is the company’s specialty.

Amelia Donati founded Mely’s in 1956, and her husband, Italo Sanarelli, joined soon after. Maria Claudia Sanarelli, the granddaughter of the founder, began the tour by stating: “One of the most important things for our factory is quality.” Most of the knitwear they make has been executed by hand from the very beginning.  While they use state-of the-art machinery today, the fine details are still put on by hand. Throughout the tour, Sanarelli emphasized how crucial it is that the knowledge of knitting is passed down to new generations. She also told the students that the best workers in the knitwear industry are young because a young worker’s hand has more dexterity. She also suggested that knowledge and passion for the craft have kept their family business going all this time.

Mely’s first exportation of products began in 1961.  They have been working with luxury Italian brands since the 1970s. Over the years, they have worked with high fashion companies like Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Gucci, Prada and the like. Their main clients also include French luxury brands such as Hermés or Chanel.

Mely’s plays an important role already in creating samples---they are charged with bringing the designer’s sketches to life. From there, Mely’s supervises the entirety of the production process to guarantee the highest manufacturing quality. Not only do the clients want to certify the entire process, but Mely’s itself sees the importance of maintaining a reputation of creating products at the highest standard. This makes Mely’s the sixth most highly-ranked knitwear company in the world!

Sanarelli described knitting as a complex craft. To demonstrate this, she took the students through the entire  production process. She also highlighted that before any part of the process can take place a lot of time is put into research and development, which includes knowing which type of yarn would pair best with what the designer is looking for. She stressed that each step of the production process has a master in charge of quality control.

Because the world of high fashion moves very quickly, Mely’s has to keep up with the latest technology, sewing, linking and cashmere machinery.  They utilize mostly German knitting machines, however, they also house some Japanese and Chinese machinery. The building that we visited is not used for production, (it is done off site), but for the execution of prototypes. It was fun to observe the production steps up close. As we passed by to glance at the workers’ precise handiwork, they often looked up from their stations and offered a smile; they came across as people who enjoy their work. 

Mely’s recognize that their employees are their most important assets. Much time is spent training employees to work with their high-tech machinery and learn the ins and outs of the craft. Most of the training is done on the job, as manual work is something that requires practice. It takes about four years to train a skilled employee, said Maria Claudia. The company also sees the importance of providing time off for their employees. Therefore, they let their mostly female employees have each Friday afternoon off. They are convinced that they need this time to take care of their family’s business and to regenerate themselves. To support their workers they also provide an onsite well-equipped canteen where their employees eat lunch and take their coffee breaks.

Sanarelli explained that all training programs are done in-house and that each employee gets training at each station. This not only helps the employees understand different sectors of the company, but also find the area that would be the best fit for them. After the initiation period, the employee enters a 3+ year apprenticeship to truly learn the ropes of the craft.

After viewing some of the careful processes put into their production, feeling different threads of various types of yarns, and seeing the skills of the employees, we could tell that Mely’s truly embodied the saying: that “the real value and the real luxury is in the well done little things.


Prato knows Production

April 23, 2020

Author: Michelle Morguarge

With the goal of pinpointing the key players in the highly successful Italian fashion industry, the UGA Cortona Fashion students visited the city of Prato. The city of Prato has been a hub for textile manufacturing for over thirty years. Situated not far from Florence, Prato is also home to the award-winning Prato Textile Museum. The students journeyed to this museum with hopes of gaining valuable knowledge about the city’s manufacturing operations that have continued to this day. The Prato Textile Museum is one of the most important textile museums in Europe.

On a guided tour of the museum, the students quickly found out that this textile hub was home to a large variety of fabric artifacts from all over the world. The ancient textile portion of the exhibit offered a firsthand view of the kind of intricate detail work that was done in the past. The students were perplexed by the vibrancy in color and pattern displayed. One of the patterned displays of velvet textile included a color that was described to the students as Moorish green that dated back to the sixteenth century.

Pigments used were natural, squished from an insect or a plant. A certain color could speak to where a certain textile derived from. For example, a Woad blue is from a plant very specific to the Mediterranean area. The type of fabric also serves as a historical archive for what was important to Renaissance Italians. Therefore, an abundance of fine patterned tablecloths indicated the importance of the experience of dining.

Our guide shared with us that the silk guild was one of the most important and wealthiest guilds in Tuscany during the Renaissance era. The production of silk originated in China and was said to have been brought to Europe by monks who had hidden silkworm eggs amongst their travel items. As Italy has often proved to be up to the task of meeting a demanding market, Italian production of silk spread from the city of Lucca to cities like Florence and Prato. Soon the cities were able to produce high quality silks. 

Historically the silk production process took two years as it included going from a mere silkworm to an actual textile. The process explained why silk is such an expensive material to purchase and work with. As technology advanced, they were able to introduce a machine that prepared the silk threads. Preparation of the thread used to be one of the most time-consuming processes. On display was a selection of thinly wound up silk threads. Although hard to imagine, those web-like shiny threads would soon become the lavish silk that we know today.

With a strengthened textile industry there was room for innovation as well. New and more complex weaves were utilized to create textiles such as damask and velvet. Damask is a combination of various types of weaves. Velvet, however, is obtained by using specific sort of needles to groove and cut the fabric. The factories allowed up to 15 weeks to smooth over a bouclé, an uncut velvet pile formed in small rings, assuring the quality of the surface.

Continuing with the revolutionary innovation, Prato has also been a leader in a move towards recycled textiles such as regenerated wool. The interactive portion of the museum offered remnants of knitted fabrics obtained after unravelling for the students to feel. This portion put into perspective the amount of high-quality fibers that can be recycled from old textiles. Textile waste undergoes button, lining and/or zip removal followed by a chemical soak and  unravelling. After this, the recycled textile is re-spun and from there can be reused in production. This is especially significant amongst the recent concern for the environment as climate change issues arise.

Our guide shared with us how fewer manufacturers are choosing the use multiple types of fiber in one textile because it makes it more difficult to recycle. 

The museum also showcased an interesting arrangement of fibers made from non-conventional materials. During the period of Fascist Italy, the Italian textile industry was forced to innovate. This period produced items such as milk fiber, the first fiber to be made from a milk protein. Although environmentally friendly, production of the fiber has since ended. However, in recent times we have seen Prato making use of fibers resulting from the fermentation of corn starch. This groundbreaking fiber holds all the attractive qualities of any fiber, with the important detail of being one hundred percent biodegradable. 

The future of textiles is in biodegradable fibers. Prato is leading the movement by utilizing corn starch fibers in the manufacturing of textiles, as well as in bag and the production of other goods, and also packaging. The students at the museum were able to see the combination of both heritage and innovation. The Prato textile industry makes a point of both holding on to tradition while integrating what the new international market is looking for, such as prêt-à-porter items.

The textile industry and the City of Prato work hand in hand. Prato proudly identifies itself as the driving force of the womenswear. They are proud to not only be involved in the Italian fashion industry, but also industries in Europe, the United States and Eastern countries. This textile industry is taking its city’s name far and beyond what they may have ever imagined for themselves.

The museum itself was once a water powered textile factory that has since been maintained to reflect some of the city’s industrial roots. A massive boiler was on display in the foyer of the museum. The boiler once served as a generator to power the previous factory that had once occupied the space. The old school machinery was a great reminder of just how long Prato has been industrialized, yet still suggesting that they are not afraid of change for the better. Since the Middle Ages, the people of Prato have known they have been involved something great! The students left with understanding this and learning a lot about textiles and textiles production.


person teaching students


April 23, 2020

Author: Daniela Rico

As the fashion students wrap up their semester in Cortona, they are tasked with showing all that they've learned at the traditional Mostra (final exhibition) put on by the University of Georgia in Cortona. While there were several brainstorming sessions of all kinds of ideas, the students ultimately decided that for the first time ever, they were going to put on a fashion show.

Many factors go into a show like the music, the clothes, the models and even an overall theme that encapsulates the whole show. With the amount of personalities and voices in the group, the fashion students struggled on what the show would be about, but, the more they talked through it, they realized how all their ideas dealt with personal growth and change during their time in Cortona. And thus, the show This Is Us was created. The show was a personal homage to not only the fashion program, but to Cortona as a location, and the community as a whole.

Every student had a role in the show whether it was styling, modeling or photographing. Each model had to come up with two different looks that would represent two different aspects of their personality, and how they flourished during their time in Cortona. Many expressed how their appreciation and love for the arts was able to grow exponentially, while others created outfits to show how their personalities had matured and evolved. Each outfit was thoughtfully put together. Some with bold prints and extravagant accessories, others with more monochrome ones to tell a narrative through the show.

After hours of walking and practicing poses, the fashion students were able to strut their clothes on the runway at the Mostra with confidence. Fellow students and members of the Cortona community lined the art-covered halls to make way for the models as they showcased their personal growth through fashion.

The show was recorded in order to stream it at the University of Georgia's own Mostra, back in Athens, but the students also wanted something tangible that would tie everything together. Days before the actual show, every student posed for pictures in both their outfits and a look-book was created. Each model had a page with two pictures and a paragraph written by them that shared their story. The essence of those same paragraphs were read by an emcee as they walked down the runway. The look-book and the video will all be available during the Mostra in Athens in January.

The This is Us fashion show was a way for the fashion students to end their semester on a high note by putting together all that they learned about the fashion industry. They realized the harsh realities of putting on a show with scheduling, practicing and many other hurdles, but in the end, they were able to put on a smooth and successful show.


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