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  • Writer's pictureAlessandra Fanizzi


There's a lovely atmosphere at Accademia of Costume and Fashion Calcagnile. You can breathe immediate empathy with the founder, fashion and costume designer Rosanna Calcagnile.

Number of the day is 8.

8 isn't just a number but is an infinity symbol, which dynamically links empathy to her, to the surrounding people.

8 are the questions destined to Rosanna, in this conversation:a(c)tion which embraces infinity, human and crea(c)tive beauty.


Good morning, Rosanna, thank you for open the doors of Calcagnile Academy to the Empathy:interview. Can you draw with words your vision?

Hi! As a person, I inherited from my family healthy human values, aesthetic sensibility, rationality, rejection for narrow-mindedness and homogenization. Thanks to these teachings-pillars and to my determination, I looked around and I desired to restore dignity to an artistic field that has been degraded for years, caged into ignorance. I addressed my vision towards the will to do something significant for the growth of our territory. Thus, Academy was set up in 1984, and it actually represented the first design school of Salento (Puglia). Academy as container of research, artistic and technical exploration, following support to working inclusion, represented by post-graduate educational study courses, addressed to profiles with passion for fashion. For me, talking about fashion means talking about behaviour, style, thinking and human value. To have training in fashion means to know a job and to be able to translate it with contemporaneity, to practice it with modesty, ethics, identity, determination, persistence, and professionalism.

Rosanna Calcagnile on the right side, with one of her students.

Which motive feeling and missi:on led you to build an Academy?

The motive feeling is willingness, desire to believe in a project linked to territory, and persistence. I had the chance to baste the Academy mission, dictated by trinomial between Art, Fashion and Teaching, joined to the Connection with our land of belonging, in a vision of opening, always putting the student at the centre of attention. This Academy wasn't born as a business-oriented school, but as an academy with a heart, where to stay together and feeling good within as a group, oriented to progress on many levels. It was necessary to give an exemplifying teaching instrument (Calcagnile patent) to a student, in order to fully comprehend the design project, and supporting him/her with a specialistic study plan in an integrated teaching perspective, enriched with human and professional values. This has been our winning formula, always bound to positivity and enthusiasm.

'Mi abito, ci abito' fashion design project
'Mi abito, ci abito' fashion design project

What's your source of inspiration?

It inspires me humanity, nice people to be around me, and especially those people with roots like I had, whose human value is fundamental within the family environment. The most fulfilling thing in life is to have the chance to talk with family members, to meet a partner or a husband- as I had, who cooperates at 360 degrees- to know how to do something and to do it together. To do it for the future, for your own sons and students. It inspires me positivity, also as integrated part as training, and mistake as a constructive and positive experience. It inspires me open-minded people, and I would like that my students too would take inputs from everywhere, to translate them into forms of positivity.

The Academy focuses on creativity, tradition and future, practical and theoretical creation, and young talents. And it especially aims to welcome and teach human resources. How do you imagine the future of such resources?

This is a good question. There are a lot of talents...If creative intelligence doesn't associate with human values, you cross the limit and scatter too. In order to hold creatives or let them better express themselves, there have to exist a political class, which doesn't have to think about only personal fiscal consolidation, but to promote infrastructure, to believe more in these young people, to develop ideas through them, in order not to let them escape, damaging themselves and the territory too. We need to help them, also in their behavioural fragility, to suggest them to stop and think, to believe in their potential.

[...] Where are we going? Why we were doing better before rather than now? Wellness led us to a regression, and progress is real only in some ways. We received the right teachings from the past. It's up to us to believe and live with the right values. And if we are able to pass them to other generations for the future, we'll all win. We must think of the present for a better future. Keywords are respect, modesty, open mind, collaboration, quality, sharing, identity.

In 1992, you also founded the Cultural Association RC. Can you describe to me what it represents for you and what are the next projects related to it?

The association is born with the precise aim of certifying the student's expertise, expanding the activities through study seminars, scholarships, fashion shows, and everything that could be an added value to training. The association supports the Academy and promotes also scholarships with partial coverage, dispensed for the most deserving students. We also grant scholarships with total coverage, named "Premio Salvatore Fantastico di Kastron”. I had the honour to have the incredible tailor master as a member of the examination commission, and he was a great admirer of our Academy. He was defined as the 'divas tailor' and he was known globally, but he never received any prize in his native city, Salice Salentino (Puglia, Italy). As jury president, I had to identify a deserving selection of excellent figures, so I gave the Prize to Fashion to the master. After his death, his sister Rosalba, an eclectic artist and also Woman of Puglia, physically substituted him at the examination commission, giving every year, a scholarship with total coverage to the best student, in memory of his beloved dead brother. We go back to the human side, besides the professional one. Everything comes back, always.

Speaking of projects, for the first time in Puglia and in Italy, Calcagnile Academy has recently welcomed the experiential workshop back to human.®, based on the connection between empathy + creativity. How do you feel about this union and what educational benefit expect from this experience?

I live this experience as a continuity. For me is pretty normal to have met Andrjiana Popovic. It's like we know each other for all my life, it's like we are born in the same family, with the same values, with the same aims. It's a real demonstration of the true sense of humanity to new generations, for a sustainable future. We wish this life project we believe in could be really be felt by the new generations too. Actually, we already have a confirmation: seeing the full room, seeing the people happy, with watery eyes and a wellbeing sensation, make feel everyone good. Together.

Why did you choose to include this workshop in the Academy?

Because of empathy. Fil rouge with aesthetic empathy is based on openness and connection, and it's applied to creativity. We wondered what could we do together in order to better reinforce what we believe in, and how to address also the new generations towards human values, thus designing future and identity.[...] Nothing is ever by accident. Not even this meeting with her, or with you, Alessandra, through this interview. I see we are talking the same language and it's like we know each other for a lifetime, isn't it? This is empathy and lies within each one of us. We just got to let it out in a positive way.

back to human.

Empathy and inspiration are two key points for me, for you and for all sensitive souls. Starting from these two pivotal words, what would you suggest to young people who want to start a creative path as a professional life plan?

I suggest them to follow their own in:tuition. To get help from people to discover what can really be their own life path. many people have potential but don't know they have it. Places and people we live, contribute to lead the way, also becoming real responsible in life. So they need to search for those opportunities, as in this case can be a seminar or dates promoted by our academy, but with the right people who connect creativity, potential and talent.

Charisma is definitely another good ingredient. You are born with charisma, you can improve it over time. Fundamental values are Empathy, creativity, humanity, connection, sharing. Each of us can use those values, to achieve his/her own life project, which is not unreachable... actually, we are already achieving it, in this conversation, right?

[...] And I finish, with these words, I love: he Academy weaves, bastes, strengthens human relationships.

With authenticity and healthy endless love.

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Photo credits: Kubo, Calcagnile Academy


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