The world has become a little bit smaller for fashion design students at ORT colleges in Strasbourg and Moscow with their first exchange visit. The four students and three teachers from Moscow ORT Technology College spent a week in Strasbourg, France learning about the ORT College there, sharing information about their own course and educational techniques, and visiting cultural sites.
Fashion design provides an ideal platform from which to launch collaborative projects. Moscow has considerable expertise in teaching the subject, being regarded as Russia’s leading provider of vocational training for the industry. Its students regularly win city- and nationwide fashion contests and enjoy master classes with internationally renowned Russian couturiers. At present, ORT Strasbourg is busy expanding a BTS diploma course in fashion design which it launched less than two years ago. The two-year, post-high school course enables students to study at a Masters level in university.
Students collaborated on design work and the Russians attended the Miss Alsace competition, whose contestants wore clothes designed by ORT Strasbourg students. A trip to the Louvre, tours of architectural and artistic sites in and around Strasbourg, and insights into the working of the European Union were among the other highlights of the Russians’ stay.
Another highlight of the week was a visit to the Museum of Printed Textiles in the nearby town of Mulhouse. Boasting the world’s finest collection of printed textiles, the museum was founded in 1833 to inspire artists and designers by introducing them to new and different patterns and styles. This history of sharing ideas made it a particularly appropriate place for the ORT students to visit as the week spent together saw inspiration and learning flowing both ways.
“It was a really wonderful experience,” said Moscow student Anna Lyapkova. “We learned a lot and we have made new friends. We’ll be keeping in touch using MySpace. And it may prove useful professionally to have an international network. We were able to communicate easily using English as the common language.”
Anna liked that her French peers learned how to present their collections as well as how to make them.
“They are taught how to take good photographs of their clothes. I think this is among the things we saw which could be adopted in Moscow,” she said.
The French students, on the other hand, were impressed by the skill and creativity of the Russians and the staff appreciated learning about the structure of Moscow’s design department, the scope of the syllabus and how it is taught.
The visit follows the 2008 signing by ORT Strasbourg Principal, Claude Sabbah, and his Moscow counterpart, Yuriy Mironenko, of a bilateral agreement to ensure that the best education and training is available to their students regardless of national boundaries. It also comes during the Year of Russia in France and the Year of France in Russia, a massive cultural and economic project promoting friendly relations, and the City of Strasbourg organized a formal lunch for them in the presence of the Consul General of Russia, Konstantin Klimovsky, and the Deputy Mayor in charge of international affairs, Nawel Rafik.
“This kind of exchange is a really logical step for members of the ORT network to take,” said ORT Strasbourg arts teacher Richard Aboaf, who was in charge of organizing the visit. “It’s all about mutual enrichment. They see how things are done in other countries, how their subject is taught and how careers differ.”