The Mother of British Fashion

6884_640nPhotograph courtesy of ShowStudio Words by Elizabeth Pollard

The notoriously severe head of the MA fashion course at Central Saint Martins passed away suddenly last week, leaving the fashion world stunned and probably quite fearful of the future without her. Louise Wilson is responsible for shaping the careers of some of the worlds most famous designers including Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Pheobe Philo, making the course the most prestigious in the world. With a fierce emphasis on originality, Wilson was known to push her students through interrogation of their design concept and encouraging a relentless work ethic.

So what will become of London’s reputation as the most creative fashion capital of the world, without nurture from the industries mother? In an interview given with Dazed magazine just three weeks before her death, she believed the industry had already reached saturation point;
“Are there a lot of designers that matter? The industry hasn’t got a litmus test any more. The whole thing has imploded. Watch it die, like the banking industry” (Dazed, 2014)

Like many industries, it seems the students on her course are going back to basics so make their work stand out from the rest, and give them a chance in the competitive job market. The speed of technology developing, socially and within production, combined with the economic crash, means that in more ways than one, trends are looking to a more sustainable future.
“There was a return to craft or modern craft, but I think that’s people shouting out the skills that they’ve got. Craft is very hard to duplicate. Everything else is churned out crash-bang-wallop and copied so quickly that I think the students find it very difficult to compete. So to have skills is the cornerstone of their work. It’s their point of difference.” (Dazed, 2014)

But, despite the tragedy, this is a tough and volatile industry that has suffered many other tragic losses in the past. Without a doubt, the energy, wisdom and creativity she passed to her students over those twenty years, will contribute to the education of future hopeful designers to come.

Read the full, final interview with Dazed here.


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