Published on February 21, 2013 | by Teral Atlian


UAL’s fashion hall of fame

CSM alumnus Stella McCartney has received widespread recognition

Walking through UAL campuses it’s fascinating to think that the likes of Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo and Alexander McQueen previously studied here at our university.

In January it was announced that LCF’s MA graduate students would be exhibiting their collections for the first time at London Fashion Week at the Royal Opera House.

This means that CSM and LCF are the only schools to ever exhibit their work at London Fashion Week, showing the prestigious status the colleges hold within the industry.

Simon Chilvers, former MA student at LCF says: “By becoming involved in London Fashion Week, London College of Fashion underlines the capital’s reputation as the fashion city which consistently produces the next generation of industry stars.”

The show consisted of the graduation projects of ten students from the school, selected by a judging panel, including Chilvers and Lou Stoppard, propelling the students into the forefront of the fashion industry elite, with high prospects of buyers’ interest.


LCF started life as Shoreditch Technical Institute Girls School in 1906. Later the Barrett Trade School and Clapham Trade School opened, where young girls were trained in the art of dressmaking, millinery, embroidery and hairdressing.

In 1986 the college was renamed London College of Fashion and relocated to Oxford Street. Another five campuses were founded in High Holborn, Hackney, Shepherds Bush, Shoreditch and east London.

“Going to any of the UAL schools gives you an advantage. The reputation of London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins helps to boost your CV instantly,” says Oztas Riza, who will be doing MA Fashion at CSM next year.


OBE Jimmy Choo, Cordwainers College graduate

One of the most esteemed designers who graduated from LCF’s Cordwainers College in 1983 is Jimmy Choo. The University of the Arts recognised Choo by awarding him a fellowship. Further on in his career, Choo received an OBE for his contribution to the fashion industry.

Choo founded his own couture label in the late 1980s and made Jimmy Choo shoes synonymous with the Oscars catwalk and famous actresses. Choo’s clients include royalty, film stars and many celebrities.

A spokesperson from LCF commented that: “Ex-students and industry allies are an important educational resource and one LCF that nurture and protect. Guest lecturers, work placements and joint research projects are vital as they keep students in touch with the realities of business.”

Arts education funds have been dramatically cut over the last few years, however LCF and Cordwainers offer students studying footwear and jewellery design bursaries too.

Sue Saunders, subject leader at Cordwainers says, “Success is seeing students begin to believe in themselves and achieve something that they didn’t believe possible. We need to be able to offer scholarships to enable the best and the brightest to study with us regardless of their financial position.”


Central Saint Martins is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading and most respected fashion colleges. Established in 1896, CSM remains London’s most revered arts and design institutions, producing some of the most prominent artists, designers and performers over the last 150 years. CSM has developed an internationally recognised research profile as rated in the Research Assessment Exercise in 2001.

CSM is a resource offering unlimited opportunities for collaboration, not only for students and staff but also with the wider arts and design community. This prestige means gaining a place at CSM is notoriously difficult. According to The Guardian in 2010, 500 people competed for 46 places on the MA, while 1,500 applied for 155 BA places at CSM. It is regarded as one of the world’s toughest, and best, places to develop a student’s abilities.

Up-and-coming designers

The universities are indeed one of the best places for fashion houses and buyers to hand pick up and coming designers. The BA and MA catwalk shows are a great way for students to showcase their talents and many leave with offers under their belts.

The universities also offer prestigious awards every year. Sebastiaan Pieter Groenen won Collection of the Year at LCF BA show in June 2012. Ashleigh Downer scooped the Trimmings Award for her layered and textured skirt-dress hybrids. Rose Irwin, Diana Auria Harris and Lili Colley collectively won the Fashion Innovation prize. These five designers are predicted to be a major part in the British fashion scene.

“It’s quite simple. If it weren’t for Louise Wilson (Head of Fashion MA at CSM and OBE), London Fashion Week wouldn’t exist.” Sarah Mower

Richard Quinn, currently in his third year of his BA Fashion Print course at CSM says, “When I first started on the BA at the infamous Charing Cross building – although my time there was short – the feeling of historic relevance and excitement of knowing the past alumni who walked the same halls and researched from the same books was a great feeling.

“However, I think the printing side of my course has really been my favorite part, not only learning new skills but also being able to be resourceful and use the equipment to my advantage in terms of technique and design. There’s just a great atmosphere in the print room, every day in there is new and you feel like you are part of something.

“I am a strong believer that CSM is what you make of it,” says Quinn, “Of course you have the stigma and opinions that people give off about CSM but I never feel pressure to be the next big thing. Just be confident in your ability and point of view and just go for it.”

Head start


Dazed & confused, founded by LCC graduate Jefferson Hack [Dazed and Confused]

Being part of such a respected institution with many connections gives students a head start to make their mark on the industry. Quinn made great connections with Dior, Maarten Van der Horst and Richard James, and can expect a promising future in the fashion world.

“I just came into CSM and [went] in the studio. There was a buzz of people; I had completely forgot that Dior was coming in.” Says Quinn.

“I went to my tutor and she put me forward [to show my work] so I went back to my flat quickly grabbed my portfolio and stuffed it in this horrible suitcase and had an interview about an hour later with a designer from Dior who later became my boss. The interview was very relaxed and they just seemed genuinely interested in what you had to say and offer in terms of design and your approach.

“I started to assist Maarten over the summer. His approach to work is really great so I learnt a lot. I screen print for him on the off day if he needs me [to] freelance.”

“I am now at Richard James on Savile Row shadowing the cutters and helping on the creative projects team who have a long collaboration with Swarovski, Elton John and show at Fashion East MAN so I am finding it a really great place to be,” says Quinn.

LCCs Jefferson Hack co-founded quirky fashion magazine Dazed & Confused in 1991. He has contributed to The Daily Telegraph on men’s style and has guest-edited at The Independent. Founding one of the most influential fashion magazines of the 90s, Hack has helped shape British fashion with his writings and direction.

Other notables are Hussein Chalayan who was made an honorary fellow at Central Saint Martins in 2011, while Jane Shepherdson was made an honorary doctor at London College of Fashion. According to The Guardian, nine-out-of-ten students at CSM either go on to start their own label or are recruited by one of the world’s biggest fashion houses.

Louise Wilson, the woman behind the machine

Sarah Mower, the British Fashion Council’s ambassador for emerging talent says, “It’s quite simple. If it weren’t for Louise Wilson (Head of Fashion MA at CSM and OBE), London Fashion Week wouldn’t exist. If you take away her ex-students – Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll, Roksanda Ilincic, Louise Goldin, Mary Katrantzou, Mark Fast, Danielle Scutt and David Koma – what would we be left with? And where would the studios of Lanvin, Celine, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Acne and Louis Vuitton be, for that matter?”

UAL Contribution to Fashion_F_Sourced02

UAL fashion graduate David Koma’s work is showcased across many high-profile catwalk shows

Louise Wilson has indeed nurtured, scrutinised and criticised some of the most elite British fashion designers to success. playfully commented, “If you can survive Louise’s comments, you’re ready to go intothe world.”

In a recent interview with Wilson said: “I’ve always believed in the history of things. A lot of people believe that you don’t need to know the history and that creates newness. I disagree: we should always be informed and then destroy it. Art history helps you to be informed.”

When Wilson talks about the course she comments: “Years ago, you would have assumed that all the students could draw, pick up a pencil, that they could cut but maybe not drape exquisitely, or that they could print but they could and would drape cloth to create 3D forms. Now, they hardly ever pick up a pencil. They have lost the ability to take an idea, and just work it through, and through, and through, and enjoy doing it.”

Fashion designer Henry Holland, alumnus of LCC, says that students should “make as many connections as possible” and make the most of their time at university. Holland launched his own company in 2006 and the House of Holland label two years later, showing his Autumn/Winter collection at London Fashion Week.

Hamish Bowles, a CSM graduate, is the international editor at large for Vogue and is recognised as one of the most respected authorities on the world of fashion and interior design. His current role includes overseeing all interior design features, writing profile stories, and covering fashion and contemporary culture, as well as the history of fashion and style for the magazine.

The great McQueen

The British fashion scene has a strong influence over the industry worldwide. It was no surprise when in 1992 Isabella Blow snapped up Lee Alexander McQueen’s entire graduate collection, helping him with founding his label that year. Within four years, McQueen was designer-in-chief at Givenchy. McQueen’s achievements in fashion have earned him four British Designer of the Year awards (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003), as well as the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award in 2003.

McQueen was at the epicenter of British fashion throughout his entire career, bringing an edge to high-end luxurious brands until the day he died. After McQueen’s tragic death, his long-term assistant Sarah Burton (also a CSM graduate) was named as the new creative director of Alexander McQueen in May 2010.

One of the most recent and memorable times for the brand was in 2011 when Prince William and Catherine Middleton married; Catherine wore a McQueen wedding dress, tailor-made for the new Duchess of Cambridge. It was seen by an estimated two billion spectators.

Indeed, the prestige and influence UAL has on the industry is extensive, honing in some of the great fashion leaders of each generation, opening vast, expansive doors for those who dare to enter them.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑