Diana Marian Murek is a fashion designer and journalist of German origin. She lived and worked in Italy for nineteen good years. She moved to Milan in 1997 after completing graduation in fashion design and started a career with an Italian brand, Costume National. After working with various fashion brands, she started the journey as a lecturer at the Istituto Marangoni in 2003. By starting a blog IntoTheFashion.com in 2009, Diana came out to be a writer with stance and this also paved a way for her into the journalistic field. Diana got appointed as the Director of Education of Istituto Marangoni London in July 2015. Let's know more about Diana Marian’s journey with incisive advice for aspirants of fashion designing course.
Q1. From a fashion designer to a lecturer, author and now the director of education at Istituto Marangoni, how your journey has been so far? Please share your experiences.
I graduated in fashion design at the AMD / Akademie Mode Design in Hamburg in 1997 and moved immediately after my studies to Milan where I began my career at the Italian brand Costume National, first as fashion design intern, then junior designer until being the product manager of the womenswear and menswear line. In my career as a fashion designer, I worked also freelance for various fashion companies such as Wolford or Francesco Scognamiglio, just to mention a few. In 2003 I began to lecture at the Istituto Marangoni in Milan in the area of fashion design, expanding later to courses in fashion styling and fashion business. In 2009 then, I became the author of the blog IntoTheFashion.com, which found great success in the fashion world for its critical and educational format and led me to a journalistic line of work through various publishing projects at Grazia.it, Redmilk Magazine, Flair and Missoni Moments. In January 2015 I was then appointed Programme Leader for fashion design in our Milan school and in July 2015 subsequently I got promoted to Director of Education at the London School of Fashion, where I was responsible for galvanizing strategies and operations in student experience, retention planning, timetable management, staff development, quality assurance and enhancement. This year, with the opening of our Mumbai Training Centre, I am setting up the facility and academic delivery for a completely new place, with the challenge of successfully managing a start-up situation.
Q2. How, as per you, the fashion industry has evolved over the years in India vis-à-vis world? Any specific changes you’d like to mention.
The Indian fashion market is a very interesting one, that has experienced a lot of expansion and success in the past view years. The offer here fulfils very much the local and national demand, also in terms of fashion styles. But not only, I see for example our alumni who have studied abroad at Istituto Marangoni schools, who enrich the local offer with their fashion lines that are capable to respond to a local, more heritage oriented demand, with innovative ideas and modern approaches. They use in developing their designs a research that belongs to traditional values and also manufacturing techniques while envisioning a modern young customer market. Indian luxury consumers expect brands to adapt and respect their culture but yet remain modern and fashionable. The Indian luxury consumers do not want to completely give up their traditional panache. The elite level luxury consumers, for example, are connoisseurs, who respect and appreciate local craftsmanship. This is challenging in terms of design and product offer to be able to find that balance between Western and Indian design/aesthetic expectations.
This is what Istituto Marangoni aims to offer with our ‘Made in Italy, Made for India’ philosophy in terms of respecting local expectations/traditions and thinking globally. Indian designers are having more and more attention on the international stage. Stores such as Harrods, NAP, Farfetch, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Colette stock brands such as Anamika Khanna, Vineet Bahl, Naeem Khan and our very own alumni Rahul Mishra.
Q3. You chose Mumbai over other cities in India to establish an Istituto Marangoni campus. Your specific reasons for the choice, if any?
Istituto Marangoni is of the opinion that Mumbai city is the ideal location to establish its first design school in the country, as it contains several influential elements that include it being the national entertainment hub, a home to several prestigious fashion events and designers as well as close proximity to fashion manufacturing zones.
Q4. Please enlighten us with the scope for a fashion designer and/or a fashion journalist in the modern day and age.
Everything is possible today and everything is fluid. One of the biggest developments in fashion in the last decade, and what applies completely to my career, is that no one does only one job anymore. Skill sets are broader today and with the new communication technologies, like social media, infinite job opportunities are explore-able and also applicable contemporarily. A designer is also a merchandiser and stylist or maybe even an influencer, and a journalist might even have a fashion design or styling background and can work as a marketing manager or digital content strategist.
Q5. How is Istituto Marangoni different from other institutes and how its global presence can influence Indian students for good?
We are an Italian school in India that means that the methodology of delivery of all our courses is the same like in the rest of Istituto Marangoni schools in the world. The lectures then are enriched with local case studies and opportunities for live projects with local companies. Both give the opportunity to embrace the Indian market from many different points of views. We are very much aware of the industry difference between the international and local market. This applies not only to the Indian school but to all our schools. We are not a school that focuses only on academic learning, it’s quite the opposite. We train professionals that are capable to enter the work environment immediately after graduation. Taking into account the local markets do not interfere with the ‘Italianess’ methodology in teaching. The Italian way of undertaking Art, Crafts, Business, and Fashion lies the continuous seeking of beauty and excellence. Students at Marangoni learn how to achieve excellence in various aspects of the fashion industry. This can then be applied to local realities and has been; see the success of our alumni, Rahul Mishra. Indian brands operate mostly in India, what we teach our students and future Entrepreneurs is how to work within the Indian market and how to go about international expansion. The Italian fashion system has started and has been since its beginnings focused on export and how to be successful internationally. What we bring to the table is a vision on how we move forward in the market.
Q6. What are the prerequisites to become a successful fashion designer?
The prerequisites to become a successful fashion designer are passion, the right skill set and complete devotion to what you do. You need to be aware that being a fashion designer is not a 9-5 job; it is a 24/7 profession that will consume your time and your life in every aspect. That’s why you need the passion and love for what you do because only like this you will be able to embrace your job completely and with joy, and it will not even feel like work. You need a complete devotion to fashion, already throughout your studies because the competition in fashion design is huge. If you don’t try to be a part of the 10% of the top of the class, you will not succeed. A successful fashion designer needs to be curious and has a very broad set of skills. As a designer you are a creative, a researcher, an illustrator a fabric and material expert, a pattern maker, a stylist, an art and fashion historian, a garment technician, a marketing expert, a graphic designer, a dreamer and a fortune teller.
Q7. Your wise words to aspirants who want to pursue a career in fashion designing.
Before deciding any type of career path I would recommend to get as much information as you can get about the job title or study you want to pursue. Read books about it, find out on the internet, watch documentaries, look into biographies of famous exponents of that profession an learn what it is all about. Today information is so easily available, so use any opportunity to learn about what could be your future. Talk a lot to the institution you want to apply to and ask all possible questions. Find out about the set of skills required. This is a good indication of if you will really like your studies and if you are fit for them. Be very aware that you enter one of the most competitive industries in the world and that the journey will be long and challenging. Know also that you can study fashion design, but that these studies can lead to a various number of jobs and careers. Fashion is unpredictable in a number of prospects and possibilities, and that’s the beauty of it as well.