January 2010
FIBERcast announcement

Beyond Talent

Stefano Secoli
Stefano Secoli
Istituto Carlo Secoli
and the Italian Association of Technicians for the Dressmaking Industry,
Milan, Italy

Stefano Secoli has 36 years experience in professional training and development for the textile and clothing sector. After a secondary school education, he completed his military service with a commission in an Alpine regiment. In 1974 he entered the family business as assistant pattern grader and printer, at the same time beginning his studies in philosophy at Milan University. While attending the university, he participated in professional courses in wholesale pattern making, at the Istituto Secoli. In 1976 he was given full responsibility for pattern-making and grading services. In 1978 he was also made responsible for advisory and special services, and in 1982 he was appointed manager. In 1992 he became president of the Istituto Carlo Secoli and of the Italian Association of Technicians for the Dressmaking Industry.

A thorough knowledge of and experience with training and development for the clothing sector has enabled Stefano Secoli to define the professional job profiles for the institute’s courses and to direct the job orientation service for graduates. Secoli had been invited as principal lecturer to many seminars both for the Italian apparel industry and internationally including Uruguay and Japan; his articles have appeared in numerous journals including Apparel Times (Japan), Confezione, Tecnica della Confezione, and Corriere della Sera.

needle and thread

The Carlo Secoli Institute opened in Treviso in 1934. It was moved to Milan in 1945 and became a reference point (still unchallenged) for the fashion industry and its companies. In 1965 the institute opened its training to young graduates, making it a point of reference for national and international talent in fashion.

How do you think talent is expressed in the fashion field? Maybe with a good graphic design project? With the identification of innovative and sophisticated materials? Or, through a 3D presentation?

According to the philosophy and history of the Secoli Institute, intelligence (and creativity) in fashion and clothing is expressed only through the complete outfit.

The physical realization of a creative idea and practice is the real culmination point in fashion. This concept holds across all disciplines that involve a generous amount of design, creativity, and inspiration. The peculiarity of the Secoli Institute (which began its dream and the application of its methodology in 1934) lies in what we call “creative practice.” This practice teaches a student the art of translating an idea into a perfect product of style. The training capacity lies in the skill of teaching design, which is a common language throughout the fashion industry. Knowledge of processes and techniques of clothing design and production is the unique key for the transformation of sketches. The Secoli Institute, with its 75-year history, is internationally recognized for its training method (called method Secoli) involving design, drafting, and the construction of clothes. People come to the institute to be trained in the language of the fashion industry and the various figures that combine to make fashion both within the haute couture and prêt-à-porter world.

The specific skills required by the different occupations such as the stylist, drafter, and seamstress, must be understood. The designer has to use creative energy and common logic, while the drafter must have the ability to research and experiment. Both the designer and drafter must be able to compare and measure the results in the concrete expression of the final constructed outfit. There is no such thing as a “nice design” or a “good model,” the only possibility is a “nice dress.” As a direct consequence of this simple but often forgotten axiom, we put special care in the presentation and finishing touches of the final product, even though it is only the result of school work.

How can the performance of a fashion university be evaluated? Look at the creations produced by its students (not those made by tailors). Then wear them or have them worn by others who fit that size. If you have done all this, you will know the answer to this question.

The Secoli Method: Roots

The origins of the Secoli Method lie in the history of the tailoring, cutting, and creation of traditional women’s clothing linked to the nobility of the Italian courts in the first “Risorgimento” and later of the House of the Savoia family. The postwar period brought original innovations that became the basis of the method. The Secoli Method combines its traditional method of making outfits with upgraded technology and programs that are used in the industry today

First of all, a theory was developed that put measurements of height and circumference as fundamental. From these measurements you can proportionately obtain all other measurements of the human body. Then, once the basics are developed, patterns are drafted based on them. After grading and industrialization of the product model, the result is organization and production control. But Secoli does not stop at the design. The institute understands that at the foundation of a quality product, there are many variables to successfully combine. Throughout the construction, style and design must be considered. The final result is the most important part of the construction. Dedicated students must, therefore, possess vast knowledge and deep expertise. Secoli, faithful to its tradition of business reality, takes particular care to teach technology use and programs that are used by the textile and clothing industry.

dress forms


Pattern Drafting and Design is a two-year program for those who, at the end of high school or college, want to become a leader in the world of Italian fashion. The program teaches participants the entire design process, from a creative idea to a material realization, as the prêt-à-porter companies do to make up their collections. After two years, the students participate in a fashion show event, the “Secoli fashion show." They show their own mini collections, and after completing all final exams, students may enter the master's and other postgraduate programs offered, with specialties in women, men, or children.

Pattern Drafting Biennial. This is a two-year program that educates participants in designing patterns in a specialty of their choice (women, men). They also have the option of completing their training with a variety of other subjects. At the end of two years, students participate in the Secoli fashion show with their own mini collection specializing in either women or men.

Intensive Pattern Drafting. This program completes the participant’s training in the design of patterns in the specialty of their choice (women, men) with a year of intensive training (four days per week in school full-time).

Computer Graphics and CAD Modeling. Thanks to our Lectra Systems technology, training programs on computer graphics and modeling are the most up-to-date. They are available to professionals and students of all programs in the fashion institute.

Single Issue Programs. These are training or refresher programs organized for professionals in the fashion industry and our alumni. The purpose of these programs is to enhance training with the aim of providing practical tools for solving business problems. These courses include style and product, design, production and prototype, organization and timing analysis and methods, production planning, marketing, and computer graphics and CAD modeling.


The Secoli Institute, with its established and recognized training capacity, has a 98 percent placement average for its students! The emphasis on production needs and proper preparation of the students has always been appreciated by companies.


Many of our students come from all over the world. A majority of our members are from Japan, China, South Korea, and Spain. There has also been a remarkable growth trend recently regarding the participation of future professionals from South America.


The Secoli Institute has woven a network of relationships and collaborations with many prestigious companies in the fashion industry over the years: Aeffe, Armani, Benetton, Brioni, Corneliani, Dolce and Gabbana, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, Ferre, Gilmar, Group Zegna, Gucci, Jil Sander, Krizia, Marzotto, North Face, Prada, Ralph Lauren, and Versace…to name only a few.