the forces that move fashion
….Upstairs, in a box-like room behind the MA students’ rails of glittering dresses, sits Professor Louise Wilson, director of Central Saint Martins’ fashion course, and the person many credit with having shaped British fashion over the past decade. Since 1992 she has taught Alexander McQueen and current stars Mary Katrantzou and Christopher Kane; former students are employed at Céline, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton (….)
How important does she think people like Alexa Chung, whose style is proved to sell clothes, are to the industry? Wilson, who, in her black poloneck has the air of a cartoon queen – regal, ferocious and aggressively intelligent – sighs pointedly. “The autonomy of education gives us the freedom not to think about the importance of people like Alexa. To be free-speaking, not networking.” She pauses, to make sure I understand her point. “If we were ‘following’” – if her students were too aware of those on “best dressed” lists – “that’d be a problem. Not wanting to be disdainful, but it’s important for us that we’re fighting against it.”
I ask Wilson a question I’ve been pondering: how does fashion work? ….How can Wilson, the person behind the clothes we wear, explain the process to me? She locks me in a look. I lean forward to hear her secret. “There aren’t 10 easy fucking rules, OK?” OK. “You wouldn’t ask [Lucien] Freud: ‘Can you show me how to make a painting?’, would you? You wouldn’t dream of asking an F1 driver to show you quickly how to build a car. How does it work? How do you lick a cock! Listen, it’s a life experience. It’s about skills, education. Sorry, mate, not everyone can be in the club.” Again, a sigh. “The problem with British fashion,” she says, “is that it’s got too fashionable.
From The Observer
Professor Louise Wilson OBE Louise Wilson OBE, 49, is the director of the Central Saint Martins fashion MA course. Her former students include Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon, Marios Schwab, Peter Jensen, Richard Nicoll, Sophia Kokosalaki and Mary Katrantzou.
Photography by Viktoriya Gaponski.