Former La Perla chief Alberto Masotti inside the Fashion Research Italy headquarters.

Alberto Masotti, the former owner and president of the La Perla innerwear brand, has embarked on a new project. His Fashion Research Italy, a nonprofit organization founded in 2015, will open its headquarters in Bologna on Oct. 21 and will also debut post-graduate courses.

Located at 12 Via del Fonditore, on the outskirts of the Italian city, Fashion Research Italy has renovated a 75,600-square-foot space, which once housed a La Perla manufacturing plant, for a total investment of 15 million euros, creating an educational and exhibition hub dedicated to Made in Italy.

“Manufacture and craftsmanship should embrace new opportunities of development through innovation, research, education, heritage and globalization: fashion needs to evolve into fashion 4.0,” said Masotti, who last June unveiled the “Statue of a Woman” as the symbol of the foundation. The sculpture, which is 32 feet high, is dedicated to Olga Cantelli, Masotti’s wife and former La Perla designer, and features 21,120 LED lights, its shape recalling both the female body and a gown, thus linking heritage and innovation in fashion.

The sculpture "Statue of a Woman" dedicated to Olga Cantelli.

The sculpture “Statue of a Woman” dedicated to Olga Cantelli.  Massimo Paolone

Fashion Research Italy also houses a one-of-a-kind multimedia interactive catwalk, which is not only a symbol but also an actual tool to be used to stage virtual runway shows.

Aimed at fostering fashion knowhow and promoting a region that is historically connected to the industry’s pipeline, Fashion Research Italy is set to become a meeting point for companies and new talent, nurturing innovation, education and heritage in fashion, according to its web site.

While a Master’s degree in design and technology for fashion communication was unveiled in March in a partnership with Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna and Lectra, Fashion Research Italy is increasing its educational offer for fall with a fashion architecture course and a fall Heritage Management school.

Both courses target post-graduate students and while the former is a midterm syllabus, the latter is a short-term one, which addresses the archival discipline in fashion. Fashion Research Institute is also funding 10 scholarships for each course for a total value of 30,000 euros.

Masotti has also set up a digital archive that can be consulted on site upon appointment. It includes long time Etro collaborator Renzo Bardone’s 30,000 drawings on paper and canvas as well as the Fashion Photography Archive.

Considering the importance of advertising in today’s fashion, Fashion Research Italy invited brands to join the photography database, which consists of pictures from ad campaigns as well as press releases, look books and runway show videos. Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, La Perla, Woolrich and Furla are among the firms enlisted in the project so far.

Bologna, 22/06/2017 - PRESS PREThe multimedia interactive catwalk to stage virtual runway shows.

The multimedia interactive catwalk to stage virtual runway shows.  Massimo Paolone

On the date of its opening, Fashion Research Institute will rely on classrooms with over 200 interactive whiteboards, laboratories, a 32,290-square-foot exhibition complex and a technological hub in addition to the spaces set aside for the digital archive.

Masotti stepped down from his position at La Perla in 2007 with the arrival of San Francisco-based private equity firm JH Partners, which took full control of the group in 2008. Pacific Global Management now owns the brand.

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