MILAN — After tapping high-profile mentors including Olivier Rousteing, Katie Grand, Massimo Giorgetti and Paul Andrew across its international campuses, Istituto Marangoni has taken another major step, revealing plans to open a new fashion school in Dubai.
Slated to launch with the September intake of students, the campus will add to the existing nine units in Milan, Florence, Paris, London, Mumbai, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Miami.
“We have always had a bent for internalization and this opening took us two years of preparation,” said Istituto Marangoni’s managing director Stefania Valenti, adding that the initial plan to plant a flag in the city dates back to November 2019, around the same time she succeeded Roberto Riccio at the helm of the fashion and design school.
A direct branch of the company, the Dubai hub will be established in the DIFC financial district, in a building covering 11,300 square feet with an additional 2,680-square-foot terrace.
“We identified a location that is prestigious and functional,” said Valenti, noting the district’s proximity to downtown and Dubai landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa tower and the Dubai Mall. While financial details were not disclosed, the executive said the size of investment in the project was in line with the other school openings and she forecast a break even in the fourth year.
The executive has ambitious plans for the unit, which has the strategic mission to build on the increasing appetite for fashion education not only in Dubai but in the whole Middle East, where she’s already eyeing future developments in the next five to seven years.
“We already started a series of collaborations in the area,” she confirmed, addressing the potential of the market and citing a study that forecasts the higher education business in the Middle East and Africa will grow at a compound annual rate of 5 percent from now until 2030.
“The area of Dubai is not that developed in terms of fashion and design-focused higher education; there’s no vertical offering but general institutions that have just a couple of courses,” she noted, adding that there’s room also for Istituto Marangoni’s interior and product design courses.
“That’s because this is a very interesting market also in terms of real estate development, so we will bring those classes, too,” said Valenti, highlighting that the school’s research showed a multidisciplinary interest “for everything creative in general, including contemporary art.”
Yet the executive is committed to taking a gradual approach, starting to cement the core fashion courses in the territory for a few years to become familiar with the needs and demands of the market before planning any additions or tweaks to the educational program.
In addition to targeting Middle Easterners, the Dubai school is set to draw international talent, especially from Australia and Canada. According to Valenti, local policies and the government’s investment in enhancing the attractiveness of the city overall play a big role in raising overseas interest.
In sync with the school’s philosophy of creating bridges between campuses, the Dubai school will enable its students to spend one or more years in other units. In particular, Valenti forecast the Mumbai-Dubai route is likely to become particularly popular as a significant number of Indian students have shown interest in the city.
In the same way, the school will further explore its hybrid learning formats and provide them also in the new location.
Overall, Istituto Marangoni is progressing with phy-gital experimentation by joining forces with other prominent academic locations. For example, in Milan a new, hybrid master for luxury and business developed in partnership with the MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management will be launched in June. In addition to online courses, in-person classes will be equally divided between and hosted by teachers of the two institutions.
“All these initiatives are bringing a new energy in the school,” noted Valenti, but they are proving to be fruitful business-wise, too.
As reported, the school registered 25 percent growth in enrollment for the October intake compared to the same period last year, with attendance in the European campuses increasing 28 percent. In the fiscal year ended in June 2021, the school generated 78 million euros in revenues and, despite the pandemic and the restrictions, the total enrollment across the nine international campuses was up 4 percent to 4,177 students compared to the previous year.
Founded in 1935, Istituto Marangoni is controlled by Galileo Global Education Italia, the Italian branch of the international private higher education company GGE. Well-known alumni of the school include Franco Moschino, Alessandro Sartori, Domenico Dolce, Paula Cademartori and Andrea Pompilio, among others.
Private schools operating in the fashion, art and design fields under GGE Italia’s umbrella also include Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti — better known as NABA — and Domus Academy.