Interview: Professor Louise Wilson OBE
Professor Louise Wilson is among the world’s most influential fashion educators. Since 1992 Wilson has been the Director of the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins, one of the world’s most influential and revered fashion courses. Wilson herself attended the course, graduating with an MA with distinction. An exceptional ratio of her former students have gone on to influence the industry, usually after taking part in the annual graduation fashion show held during London Fashion Week each February.
In her role as Course Director she has developed professional collaborations with, amongst others, Armani, Chloe, Dunhill, Lancome, L’Oreal, Puma, Bally and Pringle. Wilson was appointed full-time Design Director of Donna Karan women’s collection New York in 1997 (taking a one year sabbatical from CSM) and continued in the role as a consultant until 2001. In 1999 she was awarded a Professorship at University of the Arts London (then the London Institute). She was appointed an OBE for her services to education and the fashion industry in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. She continues to consult with leading companies worldwide.
What are you working on at the moment?
Central Saint Martins Fashion Show during London Fashion Week. Pringle Archive Project design project with selected MA Fashion students. Bally men’s footwear project both of which will also be exhibited during London Fashion Week at separate prestigious events.
What are your top tips for discovering new talent?
Who is your one to watch?
If I ever thought like that I should retire!! It is not the remit of my job.
Who or what first inspired you to follow your chosen career?
It was accidental.
What are you most passionate about?
Lack of skills!! Which drives me mad!! When people have first class degrees but no skills!!
Which piece of art/design/performance/communication/fashion do you wish you had created?
No point wishing best to get doing!!
Where is your favourite London haunt?
John Lewis, Oxford Street.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I don’t do pleasure.
Name a favourite book, song or film
I don’t do favourites.
What is your signature dish?
What’s next for you?
Professor Wilson’s former students who have built reputations under their own labels include Ashish, Basso and Brooke, Bora Aksu, Christopher Kane, Eley Kishimoto, Jonathan Saunders, Kim Jones, Louise Goldin, Marios Schwab, Mark Fast, Mary Katrantzou, Michael Van Der Ham, Peter Jensen, Richard Nicoll, Roksanda Ilincic, Sophia Kokosalaki, Louise Grey and Todd Lynn. Others are actively influencing fashion as design directors and designers behind major corporate companies worldwide such as Acne Jeans, Adidas, Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, Balmain, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Celine, Cerruti, Chanel, Chloe, Christian Dior, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Dries Van Noten, Dunhill, Gucci, Jil Sander, Karl Largerfeld, Lanvin, Levis, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Marni, Nina Ricci, Phillip Lim, Prada, Sonia Rykiel, Stella McCartney, Topshop, Ungaro and Versace.