Sidney Toledano Is New Chair of IFM Fashion School – WWD

Sidney Toledano Is New Chair of IFM Fashion School – WWD

“Having an education is a big, big asset in life,” says Sidney Toledano, who this week was elected chairman of the Paris fashion school Institut Français de la Mode, or IFM.

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Toledano will assume the IFM title in addition his full-time position as chairman and chief executive of LVMH Fashion group and a member the LVMH executive board. This demonstrates his dedication to the transmission and sharing of knowledge that is important in fashion and luxury.

Toledano was elected at a closed-doors assembly on June 14, and he succeeds André Beirnaert, the textile executive who took over the presidency following IFM founder Pierre Bergé’s death in 2017.

Sidney Toledano
Christian Dior

Anne Dellière, Compagnie Financière Richemont’s group marketing and strategic plan director, succeeds Toledano as vice chairman.

Toledano was previously president of the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, which in 2019 merged with France’s IFM management school in a bid to become a world-class fashion school uniting business, design and savoir-faire.

That year, Condé Nast France executive Xavier Romatet was named general manager and dean of the IFM.

In a statement following Toledano’s election, Romatet lauded his “incomparable experience, his in-depth knowledge of global fashion and his multiple connections.

“His presence at our side will enable us to strengthen the influence of Institut Français de la Mode and its international appeal,” Romatet added.

In an exclusive interview with WWD, Toledano said his ambition is to elevate the school’s reputation as “one of the best for fashion management and fashion design.

“The main objective is to attract an international audience, to assure excellence in the level of teaching and research, and to be as inclusive as possible,”He added.

As fashion conversation expands to include NFTs, the metaverse, and Web3 applications, his goal it to build bridges between educational and research institutions that are dedicated to technology and digital innovations, as well as centers for textile research.

Fashion design at IFM

A fashion student at IFM Paris.
Jean Picon

Toledano lauded the steady hand of Beirnaert’s long tenure, and gave a shout-out to Ralph Toledano, president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, for helping to mobilize the industry behind the creation of a larger, stronger IFM.

An engineering graduate of École Centrale Paris, Sidney Toledano began his career at market research firm AC Nielsen, eventually finding his way into fashion when he took the helm of footwear concern Kickers and leather goods brand Lancel. He is most well-known for his 20-year distinguished career as Christian Dior’s helm, which catapulted it to the pinnacle luxury.

He now oversees an array of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brands including Celine, Loewe, Givenchy, Kenzo, Pucci, Marc Jacobs, Patou and Moynat.

He described education as “the best passport, the best bridge to succeed in a career, or in entrepreneurship” and noted that today’s fashion students enter an increasingly complex industry grappling with digitalization, sustainability and a turbulent socio-political backdrop.

He stated that IFM students receive a scholarship for about a fifth, thanks to corporate donors. “We want it to be accessible to people, particularly on the creative side,”He said. “I’d love to see our design students competing for the LVMH Prize or the ANDAM prize, opening their own companies or joining big studios.”

Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic the IFM has experienced rapid growth. The number of students has more than tripled in the past four years, while the number and quality of academic programs has increased by more than three times to 17.

The IFM expects 400 fashion design students, 400 management students, and 300 savoir-faire students to return to classes in September.

IFM BA show

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Students from IFM Paris are preparing collections for a runway show scheduled for June 20.

Toledano, a suave, warm, and wise figure in Paris fashion, was connected to the IFM back when there were only 100 students. “I’ve always been excited by this school and its spirit,”He was enthusiastic.

Toledano has been a frequent speaker to students over the years on the realities of creative management. He enjoys answering their questions and taking them to the classrooms to see how prototypes for shoes, bags, and dresses are made.

“Presence is important: doing a course, helping, encouraging,”He said. “I’m really passionate about studios and ateliers, and you see these students are really well prepared to enter large fashion companies, or start their own brands.”

Toledano’s election comes as the IFM gears up for its first physical fashion show on the eve of Paris Fashion Week for menswear. The June 20 display at IFM’s new campus in Paris will showcase the final collections by 32 bachelor of arts in fashion design students.

Each must display six looks that incorporate sustainable development, technological and ethical elements, according to IFM. The program was introduced in 2019 by the IFM.

According to the IFM report, approximately 250 students have enrolled in the program, with 44 percent coming from outside France over the last three years. “a significant need-based scholarship fund sponsored by the companies of the IFM Foundation allows the school to welcome all creative talents into the program, regardless of their financial situation.”

The foundation is funded by 35 companies including Adidas, Balenciaga, Burberry, Celine, Chanel, Chloé, Dior, Farfetch, Hermès, Kering, L’Oréal, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent, and offers scholarships to about 130 students per academic term. Fashion executives can also teach and give masterclasses. They also participate in juries.

The IFM’s new 86,000-square-foot headquarters, designed by architect Patrick Mauger and built at a cost of 15 million euros, opened in January and now houses courses catering to all levels of fashion education, from vocational training to Ph.D.

IFM BA graduate show

A look from IFM’s class of 2022.

Founded in 1986 by Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint’s Laurent’s business partner, the IFM has produced designers such as Guillaume Henry and Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, though it is mainly known for churning out world-class managers who have filled the ranks of leading luxury groups.

It is supported by France’s Ministry of Industry and is well-known for its market and academic research. Nina Ricci’s Guillaume Henri and Ami designer Alexandre Mattiussi are among graduates of the IFM’s design program.

Famous alumni of the the École de la Chambre Syndicale, founded in 1927, include Valentino Garavani, Yves Saint Laurent, André Courrèges, Issey Miyake and Tomas Maier, though in recent decades it has been overtaken by overseas competitors such as London’s Central Saint Martins and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium.

Toledano wears a few other hats in the industry: He’s also a committee member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and on the executive committee of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.



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