By the standards of Florence – with its Renaissance buildings and mediaeval history – the Fascist-style Manifattura Tabacchi seems to have been born only yesterday. Even though the cigarette factory is long gone and its vast series of rooms was abandoned, the former tobacco area, built between 1935 and 1937, is having a rebirth. Welcome to the new location for the city’s Polimoda fashion school.
The two thousand-plus students, who will still have access to the school’s two existing buildings in the city, now have an open, airy space where the vertical/horizontal structure is softened by a line-up, inside the windows, of mannequins dressed in light shifts of clothing and by the view of city buildings with their curvy cupolas.
Linda Loppa, the legendary teacher who put Belgian fashion on the map at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the 1990s, was persuaded to come to Florence in 2006 and has been given a title worthy of the new building. She is now Advisor of Strategy and Vision.