FOCUS ON FASHION SCHOOLS: ISTITUTO SECOLI, the place where making fashion

Fashion schools guide by THE FASHION PROPELLANT, blog focused on oung designers, fashion schools and avantgarde emerging brands

One of the best advanced training reality in the landscape of Italian fashion schools, future-oriented with solid foundations into the high sartorial tradition, so deeply immersed into the productive world to create a virtuous circle between know-how and creativity. Continuing our fashion schools guide, today we speak about ISTITUTO SECOLI, the place where to learn how to make fashion.

Fashion insiders know that when a student comes from ISTITUTO SECOLI he/she has surely developed a whole range of high-level technical and practical abilities, a strong stylistic personality supported by tailoring skills of excellence, but mostly an attitude for hard work and professionalism.

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Student at work at Istituto Secoli


It has been for a long time, because this school has a long story. A family story. Since 1934, year in which Carlo Secoli gave life in Treviso to the first educational reality able to promote the sartorial tradition to the new generations, through the teaching of a precise method at the basis of the design and productive process.

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Carlo Secoli, founder of Istituto Secoli, in an old pictures from the school's archive

In 1945 the school moved to Milan, a city which was becoming, in the immediate post-war period, the cultural and economic capital of Italy. The “Secoli Method” for patternmaking encountered the needs of the new manufactural industry because of it was very precise and technologically advanced, perfect for the birth of that ready-to-wear that will be the fortune of Italian style.

In addition to the patternmaking courses, in the Sixties and Seventies were introduced also the courses of “Figurine” and “Stylist”. It was the age of the economical boom, Italy was abuzz of creativity and the know-how so quickly learned by the Secoli’s students was extremely appealing for the industry always hungry for new talents and young designers who know how to do things properly.

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Outfit by the student Valentina Poltronieri showcased at Secoli Fashion Show 2016

In 1984 the “Secoli Fashion Show” was on stage for the first time, becoming an annual point of meeting between the school and all the talent scouts and companies headhunters.

Stefano Secoli, the founder’s son, gave a new impulse toward an even more strong stylistic imprint and a great recognisability since 1992 and under his direction the school’s method and professionalism were exported in a new headquarter in China, opened in 2016 in the Guangzhou Textile Exchange Park,  one of the most important productive district of international fashion industry.

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The "Secoli Method" for patternmaking presented at Fashion Graduate Italia 2017


What are the strong points of ISTITUTO SECOLI? Why who wants to become a fashion designer should choose this school? To sum up in a few words the reasons to attend this school are:

  • High-level training
  • Teachers’ skills (and their passion for this job)
  • Highly specialized and precise method in patternmaking and tailoring
  • Possibility to learn everything about the design and productive process from A to Z
  • Close connection with industry and fashion houses for student’s job placement
  • Wide range of fashion courses for young and professionals of all levels, duration and costs
  • Seriousness and professionalism

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Students working in one of the Istituto Secoli's patternmaking laboratory

Effectively one of the most impressive things about this school, which I had the opportunity to see first hand visiting the school a while back and also during the Graduation Days, is the atmosphere of deep seriousness that you can breath in the classrooms and laboratories. Hundreds of students, most of whom coming from Far East and in particular from China, South Korea and Japan, who work with the utmost attention without almost taking their eyes off from their work, completely immersed in a world made of measures, details and fabrics. Each in search of the absolute perfection.

In my profession happens all the time to  have in my hands clothes made by fashion design students, but I have to admit that the creations of the Secoli’s students are a real pleasure. They are perfect. Each detail of the garment is perfectly designed and magnificently realized.

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Outfit from the "Secoli Fashion Show" 2016


The “Secoli Method” is internationally recognized  because based on the close relationship between creativity and practical development. The students who arrive at Istituto Secoli, often coming from other schools, have the certainty of learning a concrete, serious and highly professional method which brings them through various stages from the development of an abstract concept of collection to the final product.
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The "Secoli Method" is internationally recognized as one of the most valid and precise methods of patternmaking and tailoring

The students can choose from a rich educational assortments, many of which in English and Italian languages, suitable for every needs of young aspiring designers and also of who already has a job, but wants to refresh his skills or improve their career. 

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Students of the Fashion Design course

There are two 3-years Academic Courses on FASHION DESIGN, PATTERNMAKING AND TAILORING, one dedicated to womenswear and one to menswear. The courses are aimed to the realization of a clothing collection starting from the study of trends and design process, up to the concreate realization of garments through the manual and digital techniques of patternmaking. 

The main subjects are fashion design and drawing techniques, history of fashion, study of fibers and fabrics, with also a particular attention to the graphic preparation of the collection’s portfolio and many hours dedicated to the practical exercises in the laboratories of patternmaking and tailoring. Both courses are 5-days-a-week for a total amount of 2430 hours and the price can reach a maximum of 12000 Euro/year.
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Mood boards and sketches by the students of the “FASHION DESIGN, PATTERNMAKING AND TAILORING course of Istituto Secoli presented during a workshop at Fashion Graduate Italia 2018

For who has already a Bachelor Degree in Fashion Design, there are three Master Courses  which last 1 year, all for a total of 1314 hours, are 5-days-a-week and might cost up to 20000 Euro maximum:

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Patternmaking course

For who wants to deepen the patternmaking techniques there are two advanced intensive 1-year courses, INTENSIVE PATTERN MAKING MENSWEAR and WOMEN’S WEAR, both for a total of 810 hours and a cost of maximum 14000 Euro, particularly focused on the manual and CAD techniques of patternmaking and sewing of prototypes.

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Working on flat drawings

Very interesting are the Specialist Courses which have duration and  lessons frequency perfect for students and workers who want to deepen certain topics in a flexible way compatible with their needs and an affordable price, up to 3500 Euro each:

  • WOMEN’S DRESSMAKING (6-months, 2 afternoon a week) is focus on the realization of a female jacket following the Italian traditional hand-crafted techniques
  • CAD PATTERNMAKING – PGS MGS INVESTRONICA is a very specific course for professional patternmakers to update their knowledge of the CAD system
  • PATTERNMAKING WOMEN’S WEAR or MENSWEAR are two different 2-years courses on weekend for advanced students and professionals focused on patternmaking and sewing of female or male collections
  • TIME AND METHOD ANALYSIS is a new 1-year course on weekend focused on production planning of clothing industry
  • PATTERNMAKING LINGERIE  is a 1-year specialist course for professional patternmakers focused on the design and sewing of female underwear and swimwear
  • PATTERNMAKING CHILDREN’S WEAR  COURSES are two different 1-year on weekend courses specific to learn the “Secoli Method” of construction for lightweight clothing, outerwear and underwear
  • ADVANCED FASHION DESIGN is a specialist advanced course of 1-year duration, with frequency on weekend, to deepen the fashion design process from the analysis of market, the trend research and the selection of materials to the realization of collection portfolio
  • FASHION DESIGN is a specialist 1-year course to learn and deepen the techniques of fashion design through the development of the collection concept, the trend research and the realization of the portfolio
  • MEN’S TAILORING is a 1-year course on weekend focused on the hand-crafted techniques of Italian sartorial tradition for the jacket manual sewing
  • SEWING WOMEN’S WEAR a 2-years course with frequency on weekend, focused on the practical techniques of sewing for female clothing

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The "Secoli Method" for patternmaking

The school has also 14 short courses as introduction to different professions, for a refresh or specific on a particular topic theoretical or practical. The short courses can last some weeks or months, can be attended in summer or during the academic year.

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Lessons of Graphic Design for fashion

Among the introductory courses to approach the “Secoli Method” there are some dedicated to fashion design and other more practical focused on patternmaking and sewing. The refresher courses are thought for professionals who already work in fashion industry and are on really specific topics like PATTERNS’ DEFECTS CORRECTION, GRAPHIC DESIGN PHOTOSHOP or GRAPHIC DESIGN KALEDO STYLE LECTRA. The summer courses are dedicated to CAD patternmaking and menswear tailoring.

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Six students of Istituto Secoli presented their capsule collection in the special project "Designer to Watch" at Fashion Graduate Italia 2018


All the courses of Istituto Secoli are accredited by Regione Lombardia since 2004 and release a certificate to students at the end of the training program and after a final test. For the 3-years Academic Courses and the Master Courses each student must present a Thesis Project with a portfolio, a technical book and three prototypes, which are evaluate by a jury formed by renowned professional of the sector and the Secoli’s Director.
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The jury evaluating the student's works during the Graduation Days

The school has received the Quality System Certification ISO 9001/UNI EN ISO 9001:2008 and the Certificate of Quality of PSFM Piattaforma Sistema Formativo Moda, with which the school actively collaborates.

As benefits for the students, Istituto Secoli makes available some scholarships for merit or on the basis of their income, besides of a program of facilities to support the registration fees of the courses.

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Istituto Secoli is a fashion school highly specialized in fashion design, patternmaking and tailoring courses


One of the things which make this school so renowned is about the people who work and study at Secoli, able to conjugate fantasy, creativity, professionalism and pragmatism.

The concreteness of the school and its policy focused on the productive process, as well as for the stylistic research, can be seen from the great seriousness and hard work made by the teaching staff, over 40 people, responsible of so many students in the different courses. 

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Each student has the support of the teachers, with many courses both in Italian and English language for foreigners

Among the 12 teachers of patternmaking for womenswear, menswear children’s wear and lingerie the name of Caterina Di Giacomo stands out for her long experience as patternmaker for many fashion houses and as teaching activity for womenswear patternmaking in the school since 2008.  

Among the teachers of fashion design, Agostino Polano, with a long experiences as Fashion Design Office Responsible for several brands,  Domenico Civita, graduated at the University of Bari and then specialized at Secoli where he teach since 2013, or like Gaetano Pollice, who we have already known for his beautiful bags line and who worked for Borbonese and Max Mara.  
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Students and teachers can finally enjoy the success after months of hard work for the preparation of the graduate collections for the "Secoli Fashion Show"

Among the teachers of sewing techniques, responsible of the great laboratories of the school, I’d like to mention Daniela Bertolotti, specialized in Haute Couture and who worked for brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, and Memena Pallini, who has a multiannual experience in the laboratories of famous brands.

Secoli’s people are especially the ex-students, many of whom have brilliant careers in many important fashion houses as product officers, patternmaking head offices or fashion designers. Just to mention some important name: Roberto Rimondi, co-founder of the brand Aquilano Rimondi; Claudio Marenzi, President of Pitti Immagine; Pino Lerario, creative mind of the label Tagliatore; Miaoran, young emergent designer (do you remember him at White Show?) whose brand was recently supported by Giorgio Armani at Milan Fashion Week.

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"Secoli Fashion Show"


Istituto Secoli’s students are really appreciated by many fashion houses and industries for their technical and stylistic skills and that is demonstrated by the high number of employed students, the 80%, just after six months from their Graduation Day. 

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Thesis project of a fashion design student presented at the Graduation Days


The possibilities to stand out for them is not given only by the percentage of job placement, but also by the many projects made during the academic program with leading companies, like Moncler and Lectra, and the relationship with prestigious brands for internships, such as Dolce & Gabbana, G.A. Operations (Giorgio Armani) or Aspesi.

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Outfit by Greta Moroni

The Secoli’s students participated with success to many exhibitions and fashion competitions. For example, Benedetta Tenan (one of my favorite designer of 2018) won a "Special Mention" at the latest edition of Mittelmoda, Greta Moroni after the winning of the "Ecological Concept Prize" at the International Ecologic Fashion Design Contest in China, participated at Dreamers Torino 2018 and will be soon guest of the area “Eyes on Me” dedicated to young talents at next edition of Milano Unica
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Outfit by Filippo Todisco

The "Secoli Fashion Show", arrived at its 36th edition, is usually organized by the school in June. The last graduate fashion show was entitled “Quod Signum”, in which were presented more than 100 outfits made by 50 students and a special project called “Designer to Watch”, with three capsule collections realized by the ex-students Federica Zaletti, Greta Moroni and Filippo Todisco

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Backstage of the "Secoli Fashion Show"

Other six young brilliant students, all girls, were selected for the fashion show at Fashion Graduate Italia, the event organized by PSFM Piattaforma Sistema Formativo Moda to which the school participate last October.

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Final collection presented by the students of Istituto Secoli at Fashion Graduate Italia 2018 (from left to right: Giulia Martera, Sara Mattelloni, Benedetta Tenan, Elena Pasqualin, Enrica De Santis, Sofia Confortola, Wen Deng)


To enroll at Istituto Secoli is important your initial level of education. All the courses require a High School Diploma and, for the Master also a 3-years Degree in Fashion Design and a portfolio, while for the specialized courses the certification can be replaced by a professional qualification or professional skills.

The courses are held in Italian, but for the foreign students is possible to have a translation service in English for some courses. The knowledge of English is fundamental to apply (level b-1 required). Enrollments can be made also online registering to the school’s platform.

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Capsule collection by Federica Zaletti showcased at "Secoli Fashion Show 2018"

If you want to discover something more about Istituto Secoli you can participate to the Open-Day events organized many times during the year in which you can have the unique occasion to see in person the big spaces dedicated to theoretical lessons and the many laboratories of patternmaking and tailoring (the headquarter in Milan is almost 1700 square meters) or you can book an initial interview during which the school’s advisors can help you to know the various training programs more suitable for your skills and aspirations.

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Istituto Secoli's headquarter in Milan

What can I say more about Istituto Secoli?

If you are very passionate for fashion design and your interest is not only about drawing techniques and fashion trends, but you want to discover everything about this amazing job from the concept development to the practical realization of the collection, this school is made for you. If you are already a professional and needs some extra skill to improve your career, this school suits with you. If you love to work with your hands and wants to learn something really concrete, this school is perfect for you. Because, as said by their motto, this is really the school of “Making Fashion”.

For contacts and info:

Viale Vittorio Veneto 18/A

20124 Milan - Italy

Phone +39 02 6597501

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