13 posts tagged "Louise Wilson"
“Real life is very different than being a student,” offered Sara McAlpine, an undergraduate at London’s Central Saint Martins and the editor of the college’s magazine, 1 Granary. “You hit roadblocks—you have to worry about financing and about people with whom you want to collaborate with saying no,” she continued. The second issue of 1 Granary, a publication which was founded by its current editor in chief, Olya Kuryshchuk, in 2013, is about celebrating the pure creativity that comes with studying at CSM. Thus, the sophomore effort is aptly titled “Age of Innocence.” “It might seem a bit kitsch, but we felt it described the time that we’re in,” explained McAlpine. “This is our time to be creative. And as naive as we are, we decided to ask anyone who’s anyone if they want to work with us. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Smart cookies, those CSM kids, and their no-holds-barred attitude resulted in an issue filled with 240 pages of content (not ads, mind you) that most fully financed titles would struggle to get. Alongside shoots and stories that champion CSM student work, there are interviews with Christopher Kane and Ai Weiwei, as well as striking photographs by Rachel Chandler Guinness and SHOWstudio’s Nick Knight. But these heavy hitters didn’t agree to work with the 1 Granary crew out of charity. “It’s not the Bucket Challenge or anything like that,” McAlpine laughed. “The magazine is a space where established names can let loose. [These people] remember that time when they had to jump hurdles and make themselves known straight out of university. And we’re not tied to advertisers—we’re not dependent on them—so I think they actually found that refreshing.”
A handful of the insiders in Issue 2 reminisce about their time of “innocence” at Saint Martins, a sentiment that’s beautifully illustrated by the above Johnnie Shand Kydd-lensed photo of a young Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo (both CSM alums). But the issue also addresses the future—for instance, budding menswear star and CSM grad Craig Green gives an interview, and the cover features student Louisa Ballou surrounded by her peers. Ballou also appears inside the issue wearing Christopher Kane (below). The abovementioned images debut exclusively here.
The past few years have marked a time of transition for Central Saint Martins: In 2011, the college moved from its storied, dilapidated fashion building on Charing Cross Road to a shiny new campus at King’s Cross, and earlier this year, the Fashion MA program, which launched the careers of designers like Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane, mourned the passing of its beloved course director, professor Louise Wilson. (It’s worth noting that she was a staunch supporter of 1 Granary). Mix in the fact that university fees in the U.K. are higher than they’ve ever been, and one has to wonder: Can CSM continue to be the creative petri dish that birthed the likes of Katie Grand, Hussein Chalayan, and John Galliano? “I think one of the great interviews in our magazine is with [GQ's] Dylan Jones,” said McAlpine, when asked this particular question. “He [recalled] how he walked through the art studios of the new building, and he said it felt exactly the same [as when he was a student in the '80s]. He said the feeling was still there. I think it’s quite poignant for someone like him to walk through 20 years later and say that.”
1 Granary‘s second issue is set to hit SHOWstudio’s London shop on August 28, and will later hit British and international retailers including Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Colette, Bookmarc, and more. The magazine will also be available at 1granary.com for £6.90. So what does McAlpine hope readers take away from the 15,000 copies that will be distributed worldwide? “I want [readers] to realize that London is an incredibly exciting place. That CSM is an incredibly exciting place. I want them to know that there are young people banding together, doing something great for the sake of being creative. I want them to know that creativity isn’t dead, basically. It’s not been killed by commercialism.” Considering what these students have achieved—and how hard they’ve worked to achieve it—they seem well on their way to succeeding in the “real world.” And perhaps we’d all benefit from embracing some of our own youthful innocence.
How many times have you found yourself saying, “Ugh, I just can’t find the right shirt to wear in this selfie?” Well, fret not, tech-savvy narcissists, because up-and-coming London-based designer Timur Kim has got you covered. Today, the Central Saint Martins-trained talent (who, having graduated in 2012 at the age of 22, was one of the late Louise Wilson’s star pupils) launches his selfie T-shirts, a unisex range of limited-edition tees whose prints are cleverly focused around the neck. “When you’re doing a selfie, you capture only the face and the area below the neck,” said the 25-year-old designer of Russian and Korean descent. “What makes these shirts perfect for taking selfies is that all the designs are concentrated around this area. Everything is in the right place for the photograph.”
Selfie-focused fashion—could this be the end of cerebral, well-designed clothing as we know it? Not at all, actually, because Kim’s cheeky, entirely handmade capsule is simultaneously a clever commentary on our self-absorbed, iPhone-obsessed generation and an ingenious marketing plan. “I don’t really do selfies,” Kim told me. “I like to keep to myself, and I don’t like to be photographed. But the selfie is a huge phenomenon, especially in fashion, because [fashion] is such a self-centric industry. We all want to be part of it. We all want to be exposed, often through the clothes we wear and the style we choose. So I thought why not get people to take a selfie in my work?”
Offered in three styles, the tops are priced at £100 and are available on Kim’s website. And because I know you were wondering, no. Kim’s T-shirts were not inspired by Kim Kardashian West’s recently announced book of selfies. In fact, he didn’t even know said tome was in the works. “I don’t really pay attention to Kim Kardashian. What she’s doing doesn’t in any way relate to my work, so she doesn’t really interest me.” We’re guessing she won’t be posing in Mr. Kim’s tops anytime soon.
What does interest Kim (and me, for that matter) is his forthcoming Spring ’15 collection, for which his T-shirts serve as a preview of sorts. With his event scheduled for September 15 at London’s Lyst Studios, Kim is confident that this London fashion week outing will be his best yet. A sneak peek at his mood board debuts exclusively here.
“I think this is going to be my breakthrough,” Kim said confidently. “The main theme is Back to the Future, so it kind of encompasses everything I’ve done from the [Central Saint Martins] MA to this point. I feel like I can finally integrate all that I’m capable of, and the result is what I’ve wanted to achieve for a long time. I’m getting there, and I’m liking it.” Expect color-blocking, stretch everything (including denim), silk looks, and “unexpected techniques,” as well as garments that are made entirely by hand. “Some designers don’t learn the craft, and then the craft gets lost,” said Kim of the importance of touching each garment he conceives. “It’s not just about styling and jewelry and sketching. You have to know how to work with the fabric, how to be an architect of clothing.” Like we said, good design isn’t going anywhere—in fact, it might just be getting started.
Since beloved Central Saint Martins MA course director professor Louise Wilson‘s untimely death in May, Fabio Piras, a CSM alum who worked with Wilson, has been teaching her pupils. Today, the college has announced that Piras will permanently step into the role of course director, effective immediately. “In addition to his contribution to postgraduate teaching at CSM, Fabio brings 20 years of international industry experience, showing his own eponymous label during London fashion week from 1994 until 2000, and since enjoying a successful career in both creative direction and consultancy for luxury fashion brands in Europe and China,” a CSM representative told British Vogue. “Fabio’s vision will build on Louise’s legacy of creative excellence and will shape a new era for MA fashion education at CSM.”
The feared and revered Wilson can never be replaced, and Piras certainly has some big shoes to fill, but if anyone can uphold Wilson’s high standards, it’s a CSM alum who worked by her side. And, according to sources, Piras was a very popular choice internally.
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.