Central Saint Martins is the arts and design college revered around the world for consistently spawning the most innovative of talents. Many of its fashion graduates, in particular, have gone on to become major designers, successfully heading eponymous labels, or installed as Head Designers and Creative Directors within long-established fashion houses and luxury brands in London, New York, Paris and Milan. These include John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Riccardo Tisci, Kim Jones, Giles Deacon, Katherine Hamnett, Sarah Burton, Hussein Chalayan, Matthew Williamson, Stephen Jones and Gareth Pugh, to name a few.The fashion department at CSM has existed since the 1930s—formerly housed in various West End buildings, but based at Kings Cross since 2011. There are so many CSM fashion stories—endless images, designs, runway shows, parties and memories from across the decades up to the present-day—that it’s no surprise at long last an amazing book, Fashion Central Saint Martins, has been put together to tell the full story through a myriad of words and pictures.
Full of interviews with famous alumni, essays and fondly-recalled anecdotes from esteemed fashion editors, critics and authors, as well as over 700 archive photographs—the majority of which have never been published previously—the project is clearly a labor of love. Its co-editors comprise of CSM Fashion staff members Hywel Davies (Fashion Programme Director), and Cally Blackman (an author and Fashion History and Theory Tutor). Both are deservedly pleased with the results: “I think there are two main themes that run through the book—hard work and fun,” explains Blackman. ”The book is packed with images of the results of hard work—for example the amazing Balenciaga project in 2017 where incredible tailoring is married with crazy shapes, pattern and color,” Davies elaborates. ”It was also brilliant to read how much fun people had at college—most stories are about people either being naughty or going out—not so much about the work they did. Reading happy memories is a wonderful experience.”
To celebrate the launch of the book at The Standard, London on September 12, we now look back at five of CSM’s most legendary end-of-year graduate fashion collections from across the past few decades.