The 7 best fashion thesis projects of ISTITUTO SECOLI Graduation Days

Two exciting days in which the young students of Fashion Design, Dressmaking and Patternmaking courses faced the biggest challenge of their studies, the presentation of their capsule collections and thesis projects during the Graduation Days at ISTITUTO SECOLI.

Do you ever wonder how a fashion design Graduation Day works? 

This week I had the great opportunity to take a closer look to the thesis projects at ISTITUTO SECOLI, from which I received the invitation to assist at the last phase of the long educational path of its Fashion Design students, the most exciting and thrilling moment of their young life.

Students of ISTITUTO SECOLI during their Graduation Day


The Graduation Day is the first big challenge they have to face before entering in the working world. 20-30 minutes during which they are called to stake their skills and knowledge in front of a jury formed by the school’s management and external members among the best professionals of fashion industry. A short time in which they try to explain all the hard work made during the years of study, expressing through a fashion collection, a single thesis project, all their creativity and technical ability. 

Fashion sketches of the collection thesis portfolio by presented during the ISTITUTO SECOLI Graduation Day

At Istituto Secoli the work of preparation of the final thesis starts more or less 6 months before the target day, both for the Fashion Design, Patternmaking and Dressmaking 3-years and Master courses. During this period the students design a capsule collection that can well represent their creativity, finding the right inspiration and trying to translate the collection’s concept into physical objects through an attentive work on patternmaking and tailoring.

The presentation of the fashion design thesis project by Beatrice Casalini during the Graduation Day of ISTITUTO SECOLI

From the graduate collections, originally made of 25 outfits for the standard model size and 15 for the made-to-measure, are selected 3 outfits that can best represent the inspirational concept and that are studied in every detail. 

Detail of the prints created by Sara Mattelloni for her thesis project

The students follow each phase of the design process from the beginning to the end, from the first mood boards and fashion sketches to the realization of the prototype, with a particular focus on eliminating every defects, as long as the outfits is perfect. In fact when the students go out from Istituto Secoli have always a high-standard technical preparation and are able to project and realize every kind of collection. This is the real strength point of the school.

The works of the ISTITUTO SECOLI's students are perfect outside and inside, like the creation by Enrica De Santis presented during the Graduation Day

During the Graduation Day every student presents his thesis project composed by the 3 selected outfits worn by a model, a complete portfolio with mood boards, sketches and a photo shoot, but also a technical book with all the flat sketches of the clothes and the technical sheets for the industrialization of the garments. This is very important, because great part of the final examination is made evaluating not only the student’s creativity, but especially his tailoring skills, through the explanation of each design phases, the technique used to realize the outfit and also the technical problems occurred during the work-in-progress.

Fashion Design portfolio by Siyu Wang

The moment of truth arrives after the jury members shall consult each other to decide how to evaluate the students, taking an average of the project presentations and of the work made during the courses. Outside the lecture hall, girls and boys surrounded by fierce parents and friends wait the final result, with a bit of thrilling mixed to a sense of new freedom after a long period of hard work, some sleepless night and a fair amount of exciting stress.


In the two days of Graduation at Istituto Secoli, 22 students presented their thesis, all worthy of mention (look the photo gallery just below), among whom I selected the 7 most interesting projects of womenswear and menswear.

The creations of the 22 students of Istituto Secoli who presented their capsule collection at the Graduation Day


“Perturbatio Delirae Mentis” was one of the seven collections selected by Istituto Secoli in a competition called “Designer to Watch” for the fashion show at Fashion Graduate Italia last October. The Enrica De Santis’s thesis project is inspired by schizophrenia, a mental illness that gradually shatters the mind and the perception of reality. 

“Perturbatio Delirae Mentis” graduate collection by Enrica De Santis

Starting from the photos by Francesca Goodman, an American photographer who aged only 22 committed suicide probably for depression, Enrica develops a collection divided into three parts in which from the initial psychic disturbance and desire of isolation, through hallucinations and personal carelessness we arrive to a moment of self-consciousness. 

“Perturbatio Delirae Mentis” graduate collection by Enrica De Santis

The topic is really complicated and the designer was able to translate this difficulties into chaotic volumes overlapped, intersected and wrapped around the body, creating a messy but poetic ensemble of different textures and effects. A collection that encloses the concept of possibility, because every piece can be transformed or moved or worn separately. Trait d’union are the glows, surreal symbol of the relationships between the woman and the external world.
“Perturbatio Delirae Mentis” graduate collection by Enrica De Santis presented at Fashion Graduate Italia 2018


The menswear collection designed by Beatrice Casalini it’s a dive into the pop-colored world of the Eights. She found her inspiration in the design collective movement “Memphis” founded by Ettore Sottsass, who wanted to create something that breaks the roles of the so-called good design devoted to functionalism in favor of an artistic approach aesthetically more creative.

"Memphis" graduate collection by Beatrice Casalini

Beatrice chooses to unify the original design movement with more modern instances, basing her collection on the geometric simplicity of lines and betting on prints to emphasize the bright colors, that become the elements of a fancy narration in the game between bright shades and the eternal duo of black and white. 

"Memphis" graduate collection by Beatrice Casalini

So the simple jacket suit is brightened by optical prints in different sizes, the t-shirt shape is an excuse to work with contrasting inserts and three-dimensional drapes, the more classic fabrics like cool wool are used in a very modern way becoming perfect for jogging. Real protagonist are the prints. Lively, almost neon, chaotic and with glitch effects, made this collection a sight for sore eyes and really appealing for the market.

"Memphis" graduate collection by Beatrice Casalini


“Between East and West” is a menswear collection who tells about the experiences of the young designer Song Yaxuan, who lived for a long time near Mongolia and currently is living in Milan. Fascinated by both cultures, she wants to blend the traditional clothes and colors of Mongolian costumes to the more classic silhouettes of western fashion.

"Between East and West" graduate collection by Song Yaxuan

The most impressive thing of her collection is the mix of color, used with strong contrasts and inspired by nature. Highly-impacting was the incredible duo of orange and blue-violet of the first outfit, more delicate the choice of grey shades and deep forest green of the other two proposals. 

"Between East and West" graduate collection by Song Yaxuan

Song Yaxuan plays with contrasts with ability and nonchalance, alternating soft lines to more structured pieces, using velvets and classic male fabrics mixed to hard-stiffed jacquard typical of the Mongolian tradition, cutting jackets with ethnic details and matching them with the tailoring trousers so dear to the Dandy’s wardrobe.

"Between East and West" graduate collection by Song Yaxuan 


The made-to-measure fashion has found its new protagonist. Liang Tongchao revolutioned the concept of bespoke fashion evolving the natural shape of his model’s body, moving volumes and surfaces around it. The starting point of his collection entitled “Space, absence of gravity” is the work of Mike Dempsey, photographer able to stop the time and the space in movement, framing the floating bodies into a scenic and surreal reality in which gravity is not a so powerful force.

"Space, absence of gravity" graduate collection by Liang Tongchao

Liang Tongchao’s creations have volumes that goes beyond the body, with proportions and structures that floats into the space twisting the traditional shapes and fabrics, moving the usual position of sartorial parts. So the jacket has a normal sleeve accompanied by another moved on the front, becoming strangely asymmetrical. The double-breasted classic jacket has a shifted button fastening, the shirt has a collar on the front, as usual, but also another on the back.

"Space, absence of gravity" graduate collection by Liang Tongchao

The cravat ties, supported by an inner lining made with aluminium foil, connect every pieces, wrapping the body and try to overcome its boundaries in search of their own place somewhere in the space.

"Space, absence of gravity" graduate collection by Liang Tongchao of ISTITUTO SECOLI


“Lie down” is a kind of invitation that the designer Li Linrui makes to the modern woman, so often constricted by the frantic fast pace of the working world to maintain a strong character to support her role into our society. 

"Lie down" graduate collection by Li Linrui of ISTITUTO SECOLI

The collection is divided into three parts, or better moments, and tells about the return at home after a day of hard work. Very softly, the designer describes the various feelings and sensation of this strong woman from the moment in which she’s leaving the working uniform to the arrival at home within its warm and comfortable spaces, up to the last part of the day,  when finally she can abandon any constrictions indulging into the embrace of the night.

"Lie down" graduate collection by Li Linrui

Li Linrui transforms the description of a daily routine into a light, delicate collection in which the passage of shades indicates the various moments of the day, from the pastel color-block effects of the beautiful multi-pockets coat to the warm milk-and-coffee draped dress and asymmetrical apron worn at home, finally arriving to the total black look for the evening emphasized by the oversize soft volumes that recall Yohji Yamamoto’s lesson.

"Lie down" graduate collection by Li Linrui


 “Shades”, that’s the title of the Xi Gu’s graduate collection, are the excuse to work on fabric manipulation and leave the inspiration as a just whispered suggestion. Basing on the shaded colors of the Chinese artist Jennis Li Cheng Tien, the young designer extracted the essence of the concept to create subtle movements of colors on the surface of fabrics, overlapping layers and asymmetries, renewing traditional textile patterns with the handmade needle-tufted technique.

"Shades" graduate collection by Xi Gu

Without exceed with unnecessary creative virtuosity, the designer creates a solid collection with interesting new volumes and combinations of materials and proportions, polishing the contrast between modernity and tradition with a touch of poetry. 

"Shades" graduate collection by Xi Gu

The game of contrast is continuous. The exaggerated shoulders of the coat and the visual aggressiveness of the obi-belt live with the transparencies of organdy, the classic Prince of Wales fabric finds a new life with the handmade manipulation and the asymmetric cuts give a touch of movement to the silhouettes.

"Shades" graduate collection by Xi Gu


Turn-on the radio and enjoy life. This is the message of the funny and seriously interesting menswear collection "Forever youthful" designed by Yang Ting Ting, inspired by the movie “The Boat that Rocked” and the story of Pirate Radio, which contributed to the launch of Rock music in the 60s. 

"Forever youthful" graduate collection by Yang Ting Ting

The glam is that of the Rolling Stones and of other groups of that period, the final result of this made-to-measure collection is stunning and brings us back to a moment of happy-go-lucky youth, in which everything seemed easy and funny.

"Forever youthful" graduate collection by Yang Ting Ting

Ting Ting made a joyful collection, rich of irreverence and aristocratic sense of humor. She mixes tapestry floral prints and psychedelic patterns, neoprene and velvets, peach shades and bright tones, male textile and feminine flounces, gold earrings and classic tailoring trousers. Perfect for a modern Dandy with a nostalgic heart.

"Forever youthful" graduate collection by Yang Ting Ting of ISTITUTO SECOLI

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