In Memoriam: Louise Wilson

Today came the terrible news that Louis Wilson — the fearsome, tough-as-nails MA course director of Central Saint Martins in London — passed away in her sleep overnight, while visiting her sister in Scotland. An exact cause is as yet unknown, according to Vogue UK, although it’s widely known she had long been beset with health issues.

I had the great privilege of interviewing Louise several years ago, while she was in town for the AngloMania show at the Met. Averse to giving interviews, she bluntly told me she was only sitting with me because it might help her students or encourage young people out there to follow their dreams. “I’d hate to think there’s a kid in East Berlin or Slovenia who’s put off by the image of professionalism that we [at CSM] have.”

Nowadays Louise would be said to have ‘no filter.’ But while she was highly opinionated and never short of a ribald one-liner, Louise was deeply loyal to her students and always prioritized their best interests. Her twenty-year tenure at the elite fashion college saw the high-profile graduation of Alexander McQueen, Phoebe Philo, Christopher Kane, Sophia Kokosalaki, Peter Jensen, Jonathan Saunders, and Basso & Brooke. They and the rest of her former students speak of her in the most glowing terms, despite their initial terror.

“I’m basically just a fat fucker who by some fluke gets to teach really great people,” Louise said to me in her signature candidness, a hint of self-deprecation seeping through. “I’m lucky because what was essentially my hobby became my job. Some people have their jobs but have other hobbies like fishing, therefore the magazines they read on the toilet are fishing magazines. The magazines I read on the toilet are fashion magazines.”

Upon learning the news of Louise’s death, the head of Central Saint Martins, Jeremy Till, issued a statement that read, in part, “[Louise was] an inspirational person both within the college and the wider world of fashion. Her commitment to her students and passion for creative excellence are legendary. Louise’s legacy will live on at CSM through her former students and current teaching colleagues who were so close to her.”

Louise Wilson was 52. She’s survived by her partner, Timmi, and their son, Tim.

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