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World’s Most Elite Fashion Schools
Not every famous fashion designer has a degree. Fashion industry icons such as Ralph Lauren, Coco Chanel, and Russell Simmons are a few that come to mind. Unfortunately, these extraordinary designers are the exception and not the rule. In today’s competitive world of fashion, it takes more than passion and talent to get your foot in the door. Formal training is a must. In fact, some of the world’s largest fashion companies favor fashion designers with a degree, and for high-level positions with titles such as Creative Director, Head of Fashion Designer Team, Studio Manager, Senior Fashion Designer, and Buying and Merchandising Manager, a master’s degree (or higher) is almost always preferred.
Another trend you may have noticed during your hunt for a fashion job? Besides a degree, employers seem to care very deeply about where it came from. It’s no wonder aspiring fashion designers are flocking to the world’s most elite fashion schools. Besides name recognition, the schools offer the opportunity to live and learn in a Top 10 Fashion Capital, they offer the best long-term value, and they offer some of the best internship and apprenticeship opportunities on the planet, of course.
So without further ado, here are some of the world’s most elite fashion schools (in no particular order).
Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design (CSM) – University of the Arts London (UAL), London, UK
Founded in 1989, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design (CSM) is one of two schools of the University of the Arts London (UAL) that are listed among the world’s most elite fashion schools. It offers Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees in everything from Fashion Design to Fashion Journalism. Master of Arts (MA) degrees are offered in Fashion, Fashion Communication, and Visual Merchandising.
Famous alumni include Stella McCartney, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Zac Posen. For the most current tuition information, click here.
Parsons The New School for Design, New York, USA
Parsons The New School for Design was established in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. The school is home to nearly 5,000 students across five schools. The School of Fashion offers Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in Fashion Design, a BFA in Integrated Studies, an MA in Fashion Studies, and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion Design and Society.
Just a few famous alumni include Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Anna Sui, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Narciso Rodriguez, and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez (Proenza Schouler). For current tuition information, click here.
London College of Fashion – University of the Arts London, London, UK
London College of Fashion (LCF) dates back to 1906 when “the Shoreditch Technical Institute Girls School opened, and later the Barrett Trade School and Clapham Trade School,” according LCF. Back then, the school trained young girls in the art of dressmaking, millinery, embroidery and hairdressing. Today, LCF offers BA degrees to a coed population in areas ranging from Fashion Design to 3D Effects for Performance and Fashion.
Graduate programs include range from an Executive MBA in Fashion to MA degrees in Fashion Design Management, Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Psychology for Fashion Professionals, and more. Famous alumni include Jimmy Choo, Jonathan Anderson, Nicholas Kirkwood, and fashion model Alek Wek. For current tuition information, click here.
Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, USA
The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) was founded in 1944 and it is a member of the State University of New York (SUNY) family. FIT offers AAS degrees in everything from Fashion and Accessories Design to Textile Development and Marketing. BFA and BS degree programs range from Fabric Styling and Fashion Design to Technical Design. Graduate programs range from an MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, and Museum Practice to an MPS in Global Fashion Management.
Famous alumni include Calvin Klein, Chris Madden, Brian Atwood, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, and Joy Herfel—President of Polo Ralph Lauren Brands. For current tuition information, click here.
Instituto Marangoni – Milano Fashion School, Milan, Italy
Instituto Marangoni dates back to the mid-1930’s in Milan. Today, the school has campuses in London (opened 2003), Paris (2006), and Shanghai (2013). The School of Fashion of Instituto Marangoni offers a BA in Fashion Design and graduate degrees in everything from Fashion Design Womenswear to Fashion Photography and Film. Famous alumni include Domenico Dolce, Franco Moschino, Rodolfo Paglialunga (Jil Sander) and Alessandra Facchinetti (Tod's).
For current tuition information, click here.
Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale, Paris, France
Established in 1927, Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale offers a Fashion Design/Draping/Pattern Making program that lasts 30 weeks and a Masters 1 (level ll in the French system, Bachelor equivalent) in Fashion Design and Technique. Famous alumni include Valentino Garavani, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfield, Nicole Miller, and Issey Miyake. To request tuition information, click here.
Paris College of Art, Paris, France
Established in 1986, Paris College of Art (PCA) is the closest you will get to an American design school overseas. The school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and graduates receive bachelors and master’s degrees issued under PCA’s degree-granting authority from the state of Delaware. Program offerings include a BFA in Fashion Design, a BA in Design Management, and master’s degrees in Accessories Design (MA), Fashion Design: New Materials & Technologies (MA), Fashion Film & Photography (MA).
Famous alumni include Tom Ford, Lazaro Hernandez, Erin Fetherston, and Patrick Robinson. According to Fashionista, they all studied at PCA when it was still a part of Parsons. For current tuition information, click here.
Instituto Europeo Di Design - Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Instituto Europeo Di Design (IED) was founded in 1966. It has 11 locations from Barcelona to Milan to Madrid. IED Barcelona offers a BA in Fashion Design and a BA and a Diploma in Fashion Marketing and Communication. Graduate programs include Fashion Design, Sportswear Design, Fashion Marketing and Communication, and Fashion Management. IED graduates have found positions at Chanel, Balenciaga, Zara and more. To request tuition information, click here.
Bunka Fashion College, Tokyo, Japan
Established in 1912, Bunka Fashion College is Japan’s first dressmaking school. The school is housed in a sleek 21-story building in one of the world’s Top 10 Fashion Capitals—Tokyo. The school offers undergraduate programs in Garment Creation, Creative Design, Global Business Design, and Fashion Textiles. Bunka is also home to Bunka Fashion Graduate University (BFGU). It is the only professional graduate school in Japan that awards a master degree in the field of fashion.
Famous alumni include Tomoaki Nagao (Nigo), Hiroko Koshino, Junya Watanabe, Kenzo Takada, Tsumori Chisato, and Yohji Yamamoto. For current tuition information, click here.
Accademia Koefia, Rome, Italy
Founded in 1951 in Rome as the International Academy of Haute Couture and Art of Costume Koefia, Accademia Koefia offers bachelor’s degree programs in Fashion Design: Project Research and Fashion Design: Pattern Making & Tailoring. Master of Professional Studies (MPS) programs include Italian Haute Couture Production and Footwear & Accessories Design. Undergraduate programs take three years to complete, and students may also take short courses ranging from Fashion Design and Fashion Stylism to Fashion Marketing and Graphics for Apparel. Short courses last from one to two years. For current tuition information, click here.
ESMOD France, Paris, France
ESMOD Paris is the “world’s first and oldest fashion design school with exclusive and patented methods.” The school, which dates back to 1841, offers bachelor’s programs in Fashion Design and Fashion Business Strategy and Communication. The school also offers graduate degrees in International Fashion & Luxury Brand Management, and Createur Couture. Besides Paris, students may have the opportunity to study at ESMOD campuses in Roubaix, Rennes, Lyon or Bordeaux.
Famous alums include Nina Garcia (also attended FIT), Alexandre Vauthier, Thierry Mugler, Catherine Malandrino, Olivier Rousteing, and Damir Doma. For current tuition information, click here.
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
RMIT University opened its doors in 1887 as The Working Men’s College. In 1960 it adopted the name ‘Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology'. Today under the name RMIT University or simply ‘RMIT’, the school offers more than a dozen fashion and textiles programs at all levels. Offerings include an Associate degree in Fashion Design and Technology, a Bachelor of Fashion Design, a Master of Fashion (Design or Entrepreneurship), a PhD in Fashion and Textiles, and more. Famous alumni include Karen Webster, Toni Maticevski, and Vanessa Coyle. For current tuition information, click here.
Kingston University, London, UK
Kingston University began as Kingston Technical Institute in 1899. It is home to 20,668 students and it offers a BA in Fashion Design and MA degrees in Fashion Design and Fashion: Knit Pathway. Famous alumni include Glenda Bailey, Caryn Franklin, Simon Kneen, John Richmond, and Sophie Hulme. For current tuition information, click here.
Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing, Florence, Italy
Founded in 1986, in collaboration with Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) State University of New York, Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing offers an endless number of degree programs, summer courses, and workshops to a student body of 1,300. Just a few programs include Fashion Design, Fashion Luxury Management, Business of Fashion, Show & Bag Collection Design (masters), Fashion Styling (masters) and Fashion Trend Forecasting (masters). To request tuition information, click here.
Studio Bercot, Paris, France
Studio Bercot offers a degree in Fashion Design. The program includes two years of study and a one-year apprenticeship. Students will study drawing, draping and drafting, art and costumes history, and more. Famous alumni include Camille Bideault-Waddington, Lolita Lempicka, Nicole Farhi, Martine Sitbon, and Isabel Marant. Famous alumni include Benoît Missolin, Lolita Lempicka, Vincent Daré, Laurent Mercier, Carlotta (Elle), Edgar Avila (L'Express), Nicole Fahri, and Christiansson (Glamour). For current tuition information, click here.
Accademia Koefia. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Bunka Fashion College. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale.2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
ESMOD France, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Fashion Institute of Technology. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Instituto Europeo Di Design. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Instituto Marangoni, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Kingston University. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
London College of Fashion. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Paris College of Art, 2015, Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Parsons The New School for Design. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing, Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
RMIT University, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
Studio Bercot, 2015, Web. 26 Sept. 2015.
"The Top 50 Fashion Schools in the World: 2014 Edition." Fashionista. Breaking Media, Inc., 22 Dec. 2014. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.