I'm going to be honest, when I first heard the news that Louise Wilson had passed away, I was sat reading my May issue of British Vogue to which my first reaction was "who?" After doing some research about her life, her work and her legacy, it left me very sad to have not known much about how magnificent she was and the things she did for the fashion industry whilst she was alive, not just in the UK, but right across the globe, which is why I felt it necessary to write a contribution to the amazing woman that not only gave us the talents of Christopher Kane, Giles Deacon, Mary Katrantzou and Alexander McQueen but also gave us a much longer list of a generation of fashion designers that have shaped the styles and fashion of the 21st Century.
She was known for her honesty and brutality "It looks like a Halloween costume made by a drunk mother one wet night in October" she was once heard saying to one of her students. But in her own words "I'm not rude, I'm just honest" and what words to spout, it is my personal opinion that some people aren't told whether their work is shit, even if it is: and she demanded the best which for me as a perfectionist and someone who strives for the best as a creative individual, is something that I admired about her so much about her as a person. She was an OBE and a professor at Central Saint Martens in London, one of the highest regarded places to study fashion in all of the UK, if not in all of Europe.
She later moved onto to work at Donna Karan in the late 1990's in New York for two years "It was like going back to school myself. Louise trains and develops the best." Said Donna Karan herself. After her stint at designing she moved back to London to teach at Saint Marten's as course director and founded some real talent, but she was incredibly harsh with her students, but some of her students didn't mind that including Christopher Kane "I think her autocratic teaching method makes you work harder - getting slated by Louise should be avoided at ALL times. She can be a total bitch, but her cruel-to-be-kind ethic gets results." She wore a modest black uniform of everything black explaining: "I wear black because I'm a large lady and I have many exact replicas of the same black outfit. I'm just in it. It shouldn't matter if we never produce a successful person ever again because that is not our remit, it's the remit of everything that surrounds us today - blogs, Vogue.com, press, whatever. At the end of the day, I'm a very boring academic, bogged down with the academia and structure of delivering an education."
An incredibly inspiring woman who may have whipped the chain a little bit too much when she was alive, but hey, could you imagine the world without the likes of Giles Deacon and Christopher Kane? I certainly couldn't: if she hadn't had been as harsh with her students, who knows what shape the fashion industry would be in today. Thank you Louise.