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Louise Wilson In Her Students’ Words, and Her Own

louise-wilson

Top L: Louise Wilson in a classroom at Central Saint Martens, Top R: With partner Timmi, at Buckingham Palace to receive her OBE, Bottom: At the 2012 British Fashion Awards

 

Louise Wilson, who instructed legendary fashion designer Alexander McQueen in her role as director of Central Saint Martin’s fashion MA program, died in Scotland at the age of 52. {The Independent}

Her students run the gamut from established names like Stella McCartney, to emerging designers including Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou and Roksanda Ilincic, who are credited with reviving London’s fashion week as a necessary visit among larger counterparts in New York, Milan and Paris.

“Louise Wilson played a remarkable role in making the British fashion scene as successful and relevant as it is today. Her teaching and influence made a mark on so many of our leading designers. I will miss her outspoken views and her clever and often very funny observations.”

UK Vogue Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Shulman {Vogue UK}

Throughout her career, students and colleagues offered their praise of her instruction and career guidance.

“I have only superlatives to use. She is so emotional, so sensitive, so intelligent, so personal. I am so honoured that I have the chance to know her and work with her. Some of my best assistants were introduced to me by Louise.” – Alber Elbaz, Creative Director of Lanvin

“It was like going back to school myself. Louise trains and develops the best.” – Donna Karan

“There are no words to describe Louise, she’s one of kind. She’s a great friend to me as well as having been my teacher. I love her. She’s very honest, there aren’t many people that say what they really think anymore.” – Christopher Kane

“It doesn’t matter what your taste is or what you think you’re into – to Louise, it’s totally irrelevant. Her primary concern is whether or not you are confident in your idea, irrespective of what it is – and she will push you and continually criticise you to breaking point, to test what you’re made of when defending your ideas. At times, you would’ve thought you were in a psychology course instead of a fashion course, but it’s an exact reflection of what the industry is like. And she prepares you for that. Along with her tough approach, she has a wicked sense of humour.”  – Jonathan Saunders

“Louise has a great ability to push the boundaries of her students, while nurturing their creativity. It’s about learning how to give you the best that you have and a bit more. She told me: “There are no rules or wrong answers, as long as what is created is fresh and new.” – Roksanda Ilincic

Wilson received treatment for breast cancer, and mentioned its return in passing during a 2012 interview, though there is no confirmation that the illness is related to her death. She is survived by her long-time partner and teenage son, and a host of former students and colleagues who will miss her commitment to voicing an honest opinion in an industry where straightforward feedback is often lacking.

“What would I do [about having breast cancer]? I can’t imagine taking up running. I’m not going to do needlework. I’ve got a gardener now. What do others do? It’s very bad but I do enjoy my job. Actually, that sounds a bit radical. But the industry is a wonderful industry. It gets slammed but I’ve rarely met a person I don’t like, and I mean that. And the other privilege of being in education is that it gives you an autonomy. I don’t have to sell anything. People think I’m rude. I’m not rude, I’m just not networking, it’s just honesty. In Who’s Who my hobbies are listed as eating, sleeping and voicing one’s opinion. Not necessarily the right opinion but it’s mine.” – Louise Wilson, 1962-2014 {The Telegraph}

 






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