Accademia Costume e Moda | direttore didattico adrien roberts

Fashion Student – Men’s Wear Designer – Own Label – Teaching Fashion & Design – Course & Programme Leader – Executive Graduate Fashion Week London – Director Education – Developing Fashion Education Internationally


Coming from a small costal town in North Wales, UK, Adrien was determined to make something of himself in the creative field simply for the fact that he excelled in art subjects from a young age and as he attended an international school Adrien’s aspirations and outlook were naturally global.

“It took some growing up to realise that the world of fashion was to be my life”.

On leaving school first studying Technical Illustration in the north of England, was just a route to leave home and find his vocation.

Coming from a simple, provincial environment, as often happens, served as a reason to rebel and strive for change so from an early age Adrien used his personal image to experiment with stylistically and provoke, as did many of that generation. Therefore moving to London in the early 1980s to study at the prestigious St. Martin’s School of Art (now known as Central St. Martin’s) he found a very fertile environment for experimentation and the catalyst required to inspire his professional development through not only his tutors but also his peers and friends made during the explosively interesting club culture of London at that time. The school was already known as the centre for Fine Art, Sculpture and Painting, Music, Film Making as well as Fashion and the cultural contamination of these subjects enhanced the creativity of students of that time.

The illustrative element of designing was natural to Adrien therefore was delighted to take up the opportunity to study Fashion Illustration at Parsons School of Design in New York as an exchange student for a semester in 1982.

As often happens it takes a young designer time and experience to acquire a design prospective.

“The fashion design personal expression (Design Methodology) often comes with maturity and being exposed to repletion & experimentation – the light went on for me without doubt due to the passion for experimental cutting inspired by my tutor at St. Martin’s who also had help many the most famous designers of the time, he linked design to cut in the most exciting manner.”

Many things in Adrien’s life, even early on, kept indicating a leaning towards Italy. During his third year of his sandwich course (four year degree with one year industry placement) Adrien worked as a men’s wear designer in Italy and was fortunate to find, when returning to London, his fourth year design tutor to be Colin Mc Dowell an enthralling and inspiring character who had just arrived in London following his glamorous experience in the Italian Fashion Industry in Rome.

During these formative years combining study with part-time work was also educational. Working for Paul Smith in one of his first stores in the 80s proved to be a real privilege and fruitful learning ground.

The men’s wear area of Fashion was always where Adrien wanted to experiment with, recognising the scope for change, and went on to study the subject at Master’s Level at the Royal College of Art, London. Adrien took on the role as Student Representative for the design department – “I was interested in the process of learning and wanted to know more about how the mechanism teaching worked in design education.”  This was probably the seed that led to the obsession for design education development. Enjoying all opportunities that arose at the Royal Adrien took up the opportunity to work in the US to gain further placement experience but was most impressed with the links with the Italian Fashion industry, so much so upon graduating bags were packed and he took a one-way ticket to Italy to look for employment.

Professional Development

Adrien worked for many men’s wear brands, principally in the Marche region of Italy, before setting up his own business under his own name.

“I had the great fortune to live in a small village in walking distance of a well known knitwear factory that produced for many great designers, many of whom I was able to meet. We took terns in be in the factory to create our collections, hear I learnt the skills of a knitwear wear designer form the ground up, literally from picking up mistakes from the floor and recognising intrinsic beauty to develop into a design concept “. Exhibiting internationally, designing, taking care of production and selling his collection personally was a unique learning experience. Adrien’s Men’s Knitwear Collections sold from London – New Your – Hong Kong and Tokyo in some of the world’s top stores. It was during this time Adrien began to teach fashion in Italy. “I saw the similarities between designing a garment and designing a designer”. Adrien moved from Italy to Paris and then later back to London whilst gaining experience teaching at different schools internationally and working freelance designing in Italy. After gaining experience at teaching at different levels at some of the top fashion schools Adrien eventually took the role of head of design at London College of Fashion – Foundation Course which led to many opportunities – undertaking a postgraduate diploma in Academic Practice (Master Primo Levelo) – raising funds for end of year shows end exhibitions – participating in a teaching a leaning project with University of Moratuwa– Faculty of Engineering, Sri Lanka.

Moving up to the role of Programme Leader – Fashion Design, Enterprise & Innovation at University of the Creative Arts, UK, gave Adrien the first experience in curriculum development and validation processes. During this time Adrien was elected to the executive committee of Graduate Fashion Week London, still a member of the committee today Adrien has worked with alongside many UK fashion university leaders in creating an internationally renowned event and enjoys this role of supporting all aspiring fashion students across many subject areas. Creating event and participation in international projects has always been part of Adrien’s passion for fashion students.

“While at UCA I annually shared with my students my interest in the Italian Fashion Industry by organising international educational trips for the second years and visits to the factory where I produced my knitwear collections for the final year students to help them produce their final collections.”  As well as exhibitions and trips to Tokyo and working closely with the fashion industry Adrien aimed to push the boundaries and expectations of fashion education.

When offered the opportunity to move back to Italy for Istituto Marangoni, in Milan as Group Director of Education to develop and validate courses with Manchester Metropolitan University Adrien saw this as the chance to develop his skills further whilst returning back to Italy which he had always considered his home.  As well as developing the education system in line with the UK regulations and validating core subject area courses at all levels Adrien successfully supported and led the London Marangoni team undertake a QAA Quality Assurance Agency, UK, Educational Oversight Review.

“I really enjoyed the learning process of going through a full QAA review, I found it exciting, I suppose understanding how to safeguard standards and improving the quality of creative education has become what I’m fundamentally about now, who’d have thought this of a designer? But all designers work within parameters and regulations, resolving issues in a creative manner it’s much the same. ”  Working across campuses for the institute brought many interesting opportunities to learn and comare different views on design and education. Adrien says that making the TV series The Fashion School with Sky Italia was definitely and exciting learning experience. “It’s still being aired in different countries, I’ve been told I’m now know in India for the role I plaid in the reality programme.”


In 2014 it was time for Adrien to set his sights on a new challenge, having know Lupo Lanzara and Accademia di Costume e Moda for some years he was delighted at the prospect to work with the family team.

“My exciting mission here in Rome is to support the development and internationalisation of the academy. The pedigree of the school is outstanding, but different from other institutions where I have studied or worked previously, saying that it feels like an Art School, full of excitement, culture and experimentation. The combination of costume and fashion, core subject, as well as a new appealing challenge to work with it is also quite a unique course which will inspire the developments in an unique manner. Discovering Rome and the life at the academy is like taking a walk with friends.

Fashion and design students are the same the world over, students change with each generation but their ambitions are the same as mine were, which I have never lost sight of, I still feel that I’m a fashion student, just one with a bit more experience to share. I’m in touch with many ex-students all over the world still and consider all fashion students my responsibility and give feedback to all that contact me. My aim is also to support Italy’s fashion industry through education; I feel I have always been a secret ambassador for Made in Italy. Italy and the Artiganale aspect of the industry have so much to offer the future of a sustainable fashion industry. What a privilege to work in a creative environment where I to can be challenged and continue learn everyday!”