“Have a listen. This is educational,” screamed Pulp front man Jarvis Cocker before playing to a rowdy crowd at Friday night’s farewell celebration to Central Saint Martins College’s buildings on Charing Cross Road. A CSM graduate, Cocker, whose song “Common People” was famously written about one of his classmates, was just as nostalgic as the students and faculty dancing in the audience. Next month, after 72 years, the school will move from its crumbling 1939 buildings in the heart of Soho to a $320 million complex in North London’s King’s Cross. The new building will be a high-tech haven to the school’s rebellious student body and unrivaled, unorthodox faculty. But that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to Charing Cross, whose paint-chipped halls have been walked by Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, John Galliano, and countless other fashion talents.
Hosted by Love magazine’s Katie Grand (above right), a former CSM student herself, the party welcomed alums like Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon (below left), Marios Schwab, and Ed Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff. But, in true Saint Martins style, the fête wasn’t just for VIPs. A mob of almost 800 graduates and current students, many of whom were clad top to toe in looks from their friends’ or their own graduate collections, ran from techno-lit classroom to techno-lit classroom, fluorescent glasses of vodka cocktails in hand. Partygoers paid homage to their alma mater by signing or doodling in a massive bound book posted at the school’s entrance, while Grand and CSM tutor Julie Verhoeven took their tributes to the next level, graffiti-ing the walls of the upstairs studios-turned-dancehalls. In order to grab a piece of history, a handful of students snuck past security into the off-limits sewing rooms, gathering whatever muslins, patterns, or mementos they could carry.
Before leaving the stage, Cocker offered some words of wisdom, yelling, “This is the last night of Saint Martins. Some people might think that’s a drag. But what we have to move is the spirit that existed within this place. Because it isn’t about this,” he said, gesturing to the building. “It’s about this,” he screamed, pointing to the crowd. “Here’s to the future of Saint Martins. May it survive.”