Danielle Scarpulla (BFA ‘06) is a proud Stamps School alum and Italy-based fashion designer who launched her own consulting company, Danielle Scarpulla, in May 2023. Scarpulla has experience working in luxury shoe design but is now breaking into more creative fashion projects, working with linens and textiles to help add special flair to one’s home and wardrobe.
Far from her beginnings in San Francisco, Scarpulla studied footwear and pattern-making at Cordwainers College in London and Arsutoria in Milan after graduating from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. She has worked at a variety of companies including Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Versace and Ferragamo.
After her fashion experience in both the United States and abroad, Scarpulla shares her insights on breaking into the fashion industry, how to be adaptable in the fashion world, her Stamps experience and advice for current students.
The Path to Italy
Some may say Italy is a cliché place to work in fashion, and Scarpulla is one of those people. Her path to Italy was not an intended path, though she is happy to be there now.
After graduating from Stamps, Scarpulla traveled home to San Francisco and designed jewelry and cocktail hats out of a studio for some time. She dreamed of breaking into the shoe industry.
“After a little bit, my mom said, ‘You’re either going to do something or stop talking about shoes because you’ve been talking about it for a long time.’ It was the motivation I needed,” Scarpulla said.
After this push from her mother, Scarpulla found a pattern-making program in Milan, Arsutoria, and decided to enroll.
“I was worried to go because I thought I would be too pigeonholed into doing just pattern-making, then they would offer me a job where they would just want me to only do that,” Scarpulla said.
Though she faced some hesitation at first, she made a seemingly rash decision when booking a one-way flight to Italy. A 3‑month-long stay for the program turned into 15 years for Scarpulla, who now works in Varese, Lombardy, just northwest of Milan.
Scarpulla’s time at Stamps was invaluable to her and her work. Taking a variety of classes and working with many mediums allowed her to expand her skillset. While she was a student, Scarpulla felt frustrated she couldn’t focus and zone in on just one or a few creative practices, but now is grateful for that.
“I think I am one of the only people I know in the fashion industry who didn’t go to fashion school,” Scarpulla said. “They come from a really different background. It helps me in a lot of ways in that I have friends who went to fashion school, but they don’t actively sew or do pattern-making. At Stamps, I just learned how to make things and problem solve, which I think is a really big part of design.”
The ability to work in different mediums was important for shoes, which are made of leather, wood, metal, hard plastics, rubber and more. Other than learning manual skills, learning how to use software like Adobe Illustrator was valuable to Scarpulla when working in the fashion industry.
Scarpulla initially decided to go to the Stamps School because it offered so many mediums and gave students access to incredible mentors. She said Associate Professor Anne Mondro and Career Development Coordinator John Luther, among others, encouraged her and pushed her to follow her creative passions while she was a student. She said she would not be where she is today without that guidance.