How the Internet Forever Changed Fashion: Central Saint Martins Professor Louise Wilson OBE’s Last Interview
Less than two weeks ago, high fashion saw one of its important educators, Louise Wilson OBE suddenly pass away. Since taking on the role as Course Director for MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins in 1992, she has been pivotal in helping establish the careers of Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Craig Green among others. While not every pupil has gone on to be a famous designer, many have gone on to make important contributions within the fashion world. In a last interview with Dazed, Wilson OBE shared some interesting insights into the morphing fashion landscape that has been at the mercy of the Internet. Both the unsustainable nature of the fashion machine and the lack of pure inspiration are two important pieces of dialog within the interview. The points aren’t necessarily revelational, but it does add food for thought as we continually look to redefine fashion in the Internet generation. Below is a short excerpt of the article while the whole article can be seen over at Dazed.
All the graduates speak of the internet as equal parts friend and foe. “It’s such a great tool, but it can be crippling,” Henry says. “Knowing every collection on style.com can turn you off an idea, and the volume at which you can find things makes me feel as though I absorb less.” Inspiration has become ubiquitous, according to Power: “Research has become relatively easy. You can just type in what you’re looking for and find it in an instant. The hardest thing now is the edit. Internet fashion has become this all-consuming beast which regurgitates fashion images with little regard for merit or relevance. Everything becomes elevated. I’ve come to really appreciate the make of a garment, the technology within it, the story behind it. The things you can’t see on Tumblr.”
“Yohji Yamamoto said that fashion students’ eyes ‘have become dirty’,” Parnell-Mooney recalls. “When they come to work for him he almost wants to wash their eyes out and stop them from looking at Tumblr.” For Parnell-Mooney, we have been desensitised by the internet. “After our show in February there was no one buying the collections like they did back in the day with McQueen. They’d already seen it. It’s happened and it’s done and it’s been fodder on Instagram and vogue.com, and you’ve moved on to the next pre-collection or cruise or whatever.”
Although it’s tempting for students to splash their work all over the web, especially during job-hunting periods, Wilson thought it a bad idea. “I try to stop my students doing random things on the internet or putting work online,” she said. “It doesn’t get them jobs. This concept of being noticed, I don’t know what it brings you. Because it’s a hell of a lot of people being noticed and having funded dinner parties and goodness knows what else, and I really don’t know if they’ll still be around at the age of 40. My students are noticed by the people I respect from the quality of their work. It’s not all fur coat and no knickers. It’s fully knickered under the fur coat.”