10 posts tagged "Louise Wilson"
Professor Louise Wilson, the inimitable director of the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins, died earlier this month at age 52. Today, her family released a statement saying that there will be a private funeral for the beloved educator in Scotland, as well as a memorial in London later this year. Furthermore, the statement revealed that a fund “to honor Professor Louise Wilson’s profound belief in access to fashion education” will be established in the near future. Wilson’s fierce dedication to her pupils (including Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll, and more) and their success was one of her most remarkable qualities. Thus, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting tribute than one that will aid the next generation of fashion students, particularly at a time when the cost of a design education in the U.K. is becoming increasingly prohibitive.
Why I Loved Louise Wilson: Katharine K. Zarrella Remembers What It Was Like to Be Taught by the Fearsome, Brilliant, and Irreplaceable Fashion Educator-------
I woke up to a devastating e-mail from Roger Tredre, my Central Saint Martins graduate tutor, this morning. “Louise Wilson has died,” read the subject line. “This is a great shock,” the message continued. “A very sad day.” Wilson, the revered Central Saint Martins Fashion MA course director, passed away in her sleep on Friday night. She was 52.
It is a sad day. Not only for the Saint Martins students fortunate enough to have been yelled at by the at once feared and adored professor, but for the fashion industry as a whole. Wilson, who was known to have some, let’s call them “unorthodox” teaching methods (screaming profanities was the least of it), helped mold many of the most brilliant design talents of the last twenty years. Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katrantzou, and more all at one point stood (and probably cried) in her whitewashed office, the walls of which were covered in thank-you notes from graduates and heavy-hitting designers like Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz. He was a friend of Wilson’s who often came to speak at the school at her request. Such was the irreplaceable educator’s influence in the industry: While she was a force to be reckoned with—and a terrifying one at that—she was beloved by alums and movers and shakers alike. No one said no to Louise Wilson—not because they were afraid to, but because they didn’t want to.
I studied on the journalism pathway of the Central Saint Martins Fashion MA from 2010 until my graduation in 2012. And while I refused to admit it at the time, I was scared shitless of Louise. I remember the first day of my two-year stint at the school, when she walked into a room filled with aspiring journalists and designers and invited them to ask her questions about the course and the industry in general. It took a good while for anyone to come forward, thanks to Wilson’s famously intimidating presence. Eventually, I sheepishly raised my hand and inquired about her thoughts on a pair of American designers who were particularly hot at the moment. She leaned on the desk, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Not much,” before taking the next question.
That was Louise’s way, both in conversation and education. She was refreshingly blunt, funny in the borderline offensive way that only the English can be, and had the ability to teach you more about not only fashion, but life in one terse sentence than most could in a decade. All eight of the students on my course initially thought Louise hated us. And who knows, in the beginning, she may have. She told us that we were “visually blind,” that we spat out too many words without saying anything, and, as a classmate noted today, she taught us that we needed to go to the design studio, not just the classroom, to learn how to be good fashion journalists.
I’ll never forget when I walked into her office to present the first draft of our class newspaper, The Central Saint Martins Journal, which was set to be distributed during the Fall ’12 CSM graduate show at London fashion week. Needless to say, she had her reservations (we were visually blind, after all) and wanted to ensure our work was fit to sit alongside that of her designers. At first, it wasn’t. She told me that the draft looked like a “venereal disease,” and proceeded to scream about writers’ lack of attention to aesthetics and the poor state of journalism for a solid forty-five minutes before dismissing me. After weeks of deliberating and arguing, the class decided that Louise’s disapproval only made us want our paper more.
She was surprised to see us back at her office door two months later, a second draft in hand. With a little guidance, we finally got her stamp of approval (we weren’t allowed to use any images, and our cover was blank, but that’s beside the point), and the final result still sits on my bookshelf. At the CSM show’s after-party, Louise gave me a hug, put her hands on my shoulders, and said, “Did you see it? It was on the seats!” before walking up the stairs of the since-shuttered London outpost of Le Baron nightclub.
That’s another thing about Louise. She didn’t wash her hands of you after you stepped off campus. Until her death, she attended many of her students’ fashion shows—I’d always see her backstage in London offering praise and, sometimes, advice to the likes of Louise Gray, Richard Nicoll, and Simone Rocha. She may have tortured them at Saint Martins, but she was there for them until the end. “She was a truly brilliant teacher because she showed students how to make ordinary work into extraordinary work, and took them on the journey with her,” recalls Tredre. “It was tough love all the way with Louise, but that tough love was, she believed, the best preparation for the real world.”
But it wasn’t just that Louise wanted her students to be prepared for the unforgiving beast that is the fashion industry—she wanted them to put their whole selves, and their best selves, into each stitch of their designs. She hated unnecessary flash; privileged, unwarranted arrogance; and, most of all, laziness. Nothing but heartfelt, sweat-infused perfection was allowed on the CSM fashion week runway. And given the caliber of collections we’ve seen year after year, her high standards paid off.
While I wasn’t as close to Louise as her design students, I still can’t begin to list all that she taught me. We don’t have the bandwidth. One thing I will say, though, is that her approach was flawless. For instance, during my final year, I needed to interview her for a story. She thought my questions were absolute crap and, as punishment, gave me only one-word responses. (Even so, they were some of the best answers I’ve gotten in my journalistic career.) Ever since, when preparing for an interview, I think to myself, Would Louise answer this? before settling on a query.
“There’s a phrase, ‘All fur coat and no knickers,’” Louise told me during a 2011 interview for Style.com. “Saint Martins has always focused on the knickers.” With that in mind, I’d like to say thank you, Louise, for helping me, and so many others, find our knickers.
Professor Louise Wilson, the renowned Central Saint Martins Fashion MA course director who launched the careers of former students like Lee Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll, and more recently Simone Rocha and Craig Green, has died. She passed away in her sleep last night while visiting her sister in Scotland. She was 52.
A Saint Martins grad herself (she was lucky enough to have Ossie Clark as her tutor in the eighties), Wilson worked at the London-based college from 1992 through her death, taking a brief hiatus in the late nineties after being headhunted by Donna Karan. She was famed for her brash, often outrageous teaching tactics and outbursts, though her dedication to her students was never questioned—Wilson would consistently go above and beyond to help them grow, succeed, and earn placements at such houses as Lanvin and Balenciaga.
Wilson had been in poor health for some time due to breast cancer. She leaves behind her partner of more than thirty years and their son. Wilson was not only a pillar of the London fashion community—she was a veritable institution and inspiration for designers and fashion lovers worldwide. Many of today’s greatest talents owe her a huge debt of gratitude. She will be sorely missed.
Exclusive: LVMH Reveals the Forty Heavy Hitters on Its LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers Experts Panel-------
Back in November, we broke the news that LVMH was launching its new 300,000-euro LVMH Prize for Young Designers. After applications close on February 2, an LVMH team will select thirty promising talents from the long list of hopefuls. And during Paris fashion week, those up-and-comers will present their collections to an esteemed panel of forty industry insiders. Today, we can reveal the heavy hitters who will be sitting in the judges’ seats, and boy, if the fact that 300K is on the line doesn’t give the contestants butterflies, the international powerhouses set to survey their work just might. Central Saint Martins’ Louise Wilson, stylist Olivier Rizzo, Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet, stylist Camilla Nickerson, Colette’s Sarah Andelman, Dover Street Market’s Adrian Joffe, and editor Katie Grand are just some of the experts in the group. Of course, we can’t leave out Style.com’s own Tim Blanks and Jo-Ann Furniss, who will be joining their peers in narrowing down the pool from thirty to ten designers. As for the ultimate winner, we’ll have to hold our breath until May, when a group including Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, and Riccardo Tisci, as well as Delphine Arnault, Jean-Paul Claverie, and Pierre-Yves Roussel decide who wins the grand prize. But considering the knowledge and taste levels the members of LVMH’s panel boast, it’s going to be worth the wait. Take a look at the full list of judges, below. As for the ultimate winner, we’ll have to hold our breath…
LVMH’s Panel of Experts
Imran Amed, founder and editor of Business of Fashion (London)
Sarah Andelman, creative director of Colette (Paris)
Fabien Baron, art director, founder of Baron & Baron (New York)
Tim Blanks, editor at large, Style.com (London)
Mariacarla Boscono, supermodel and muse (Rome)
Angelica Cheung, editor in chief of Vogue China (Beijing)
Alexandre de Betak, founder of Bureau Betak (Paris)
Godfrey Deeny, editor at large, fashion, Le Figaro (Paris)
Patrick Demarchelier, photographer (New York)
Babeth Djian, editor in chief of Numéro (Paris)
Linda Fargo, senior vice president of Bergdorf Goodman (New York)
Jo-Ann Furniss, writer, editor, and creative director (London)
Chantal Gaemperlé, LVMH group executive vice president for human resources and synergies (Paris)
Stephen Gan, founder of Fashion Media Group LLC (New York)
Julie Gilhart, consultant (New York)
Katie Grand, editor in chief of Love magazine (London)
Jefferson Hack, co-founder and editorial director of Dazed Group (London)
Laure Hériard Dubreuil, co-founder and chief executive of The Webster (Miami)
Adrian Joffe, chief executive officer of Dover Street Market International (London)
Sylvia Jorif, journalist at Elle magazine (Paris)
Hirofumi Kurino, creative Director of United Arrows (Tokyo)
Linda Loppa, director of Polimoda (Florence)
Natalie Massenet, founder and executive chairman of Net-a-Porter (London)
Pat McGrath, makeup artist (New York)
Marigay McKee, president of Saks Fifth Avenue (New York)
Sarah Mower, contributing editor, American Vogue (London)
Camilla Nickerson, stylist (New York)
Lilian Pacce, fashion editor and writer (São Paulo)
Jean-Jacques Picart, fashion and luxury consultant (Paris)
Gaia Repossi, creative director of Repossi (Paris)
Olivier Rizzo, stylist (Antwerp)
Carine Roitfeld, Founder of CR Fashion Book (Paris)
Olivier Saillard, director of the Galliera Museum (Paris)
Marie-Amelie Sauvé, stylist (Paris)
Carla Sozzani, founder of 10 Corso Como (Milan)
Charlotte Stockdale, stylist (London)
Tomoki Sukezane, stylist (Tokyo)
Natalia Vodianova, supermodel and philanthropist (Paris)
Louise Wilson, course director of the Fashion M.A. at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (London)
Dasha Zhukova, editor in chief of Garage magazine and founder of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow)
Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Riccardo Tisci, Christopher Kane—Central Saint Martins College has no shortage of iconic alumni. And it’s not hurting for fresh talent, either. Students in the undergraduate and masters programs have once again broken new ground with the release of 1 Granary, a student fashion magazine, named for the address of the school’s new King’s Cross campus at 1 Granary Square. “We were just having fun, doing what we loved,” explained the student editor and founder, Olya Kuryshchuk (she also styled the below shoot, “Going Sublime,” which was lensed by photographer Nikolay Biryukov), of the magazine’s origins. “Gradually, we realized that we had created a great opportunity—that we could meet the people who truly inspire us and show our own work in the process.”
The issue features interviews with CSM alums such as Kate Phelan, as well as some very rare archival images—the first official image of Alexander McQueen, which was shot by his friend and current CSM tutor Gary Wallis, Katie Grand’s first-ever photo shoot from when she was a second-year knitting student at the school (lensed by Wallis, the spread debuts here, above). “For the shoot, Katie and Gary Wallis drove all evening, shot all night in an old marked-off factory, and were back in time for class the next morning,” explained Kuryshchuk. And of course, 1 Granary highlights work by current students and recent graduates, with editorials showcasing brightly-printed sustainable tunics crafted by students during a group project, and some almost cartoonishly clever architectural pieces from 2011 graduate Jaeyeon Lee. Continue Reading “CSM Does It Again” »