Student Achievement

Innovative Transatlantic Collaboration Enhances Fashion Merchandising Learning Opportunities

Julia Fishman

35 Marist Fashion merchandising majors + 10 graduate fashion design students based in Italy = a collaboration that is far more than the sum of its parts.

June 24, 2020—Looking for a way to end the academic year on a high note amid COVID-19 and managing a litany of changes on campus and off, the students in Juan Manuel Olivera-Silvera’s Fashion Production course took on a monumental project—the production of a virtual fashion show featuring the work in ten graduate level design students of Italy.

The initiative, called Insieme, which translates to “together” in Italian, developed at a key time. “We were fresh off of making changes to the Silver Needle Runway (SNR),” said Ashley Camuso ’20, referring to Marist’s annual runway show for senior fashion design students. “Following the move from the traditional in-person SNR to a digital format, we wanted to find a way to showcase other creations and capitalize on what we learned during that process.”

The students were also eager to tackle a project since many were being confronted with the news of canceled summer internships because of the pandemic.

Olivera-Silvera, Professional Lecturer in Fashion Design, and Italian fashion designer Francesca Liberatore, who has long collaborated with the Marist Fashion Program, jumped right in with an idea for the enterprising undergraduates to work with Liberatore’s graduate students.

Fashion by Fabrizio Bennici (left) and Claudia Giovenzania (right).
Fashion by Fabrizio Bennici (left) and Claudia Giovenzania (right).

“This was an opportunity not only for an external project, it was the collaboration of two groups of students, from two different schools on two different continents, working together and sharing one common goal,” said Olivera-Silvera. “And they did this while navigating confinement and the limitations imposed by the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and Italy.”

The Marist team led the effort from start to finish, working with the designers and handling all aspects of fully producing and branding the virtual show. This included developing the show concept, the video content, graphic design, writing promotional materials and having them translated for Italian media, building media lists, and handling social media, which was key to the project’s success.

“Juan Manuel and Francesca really helped foster the idea,” said Camuso. “And we students were eager to run with it.”

All the work culminated in the show, which was shared on YouTube on May 29, and on the fashion-focused FF Channel as well. Ultimately the content for Insieme was varied: the final show included footage designers provided from previous runways shows and photography that capitalized on the moment, featuring models on empty streets in Italy.



The College’s new Fashion Program Director John Bartlett feels the project shows how much can be accomplished during difficult circumstances. "The Insieme initiative is a timely example of how our industry is confronting the challenges of the pandemic head on. The world of fashion, alongside many other industries, is going through a total overhaul and the traditional modes of showing fashion design are going to have to adapt to the immediate changes in our world,” said Bartlett. “Like much of the fashion industry, traditional shows are now being replaced with online and virtual shows beginning with London Fashion Week and I am excited to see how our industry reimagines how we will experience these presentations as well as how the industry will move forward in the coming months.”

For Camuso, the project was a stellar learning experience. “Insieme provided a chance to collaborate with new people, make new connections, and get a completely different experience off campus.”

Bartlett believes the lessons learned from this effort will be far-reaching. “This is a time to reexamine everything and I do believe our industry will come out on the other side stronger than ever, but with a new sense of responsibility, transparency and connectedness.”

To learn more about the Insieme project, follow @insieme_creiamo on Facebook and Instagram.

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