The school was founded in Milan in 1935 by the tailor Giulio Marangoni, and became a Scuola Professionale Artistica or “professional art school” in 1942. At first the school trained mainly pattern makers and seamstresses; in the 1970s and 1980s, it turned towards fashion design, product development and marketing.
A London branch was opened in a former textile factory at 30 Fashion Street, Spitalfields, in 2003, and a Paris branch opened in 2006. A branch in Via de’ Tornabuoni in central Florence opened in 2016. In China, branches were opened in Shanghai in 2013, and in Shenzhen in 2016. The Group opened its first school in India, in Mumbai, in July 2017.
In 2010 there were about 2200 students of 70 nationalities in three campuses.
In 2011 Career Education Corporation sold the Istituto Marangoni to Providence Equity Partners for a price estimated between 17 and 20 million dollars.