A STYLE guru who influenced leading figures in the world of fashion including Alexander McQueen was hailed as “inspirational” and a “legend” yesterday following her death at the age of 52.
Louise Wilson, long-serving director of the prestigious MA fashion course at Central Saint Martins (CSM) at University of the Arts London, is believed to have died in her sleep on Friday while visiting her sister in Scotland.
She is credited with shaping the careers of a host of designers including Stella McCartney, and Scots Jonathan Saunders and Louise Gray.
Wilson, who grew up in the Borders, was recently included on a list of 125 of the most “intelligent, empowered and inspirational” women to mark the 125th year of The Lady magazine. In 2008 she received an OBE for services to fashion and education. Writing on Twitter, McCartney said: “What an inspiration and force in fashion. I send my deep sympathy to your family.
“No one will ever replace you because you were a true one off. Louise we will all miss you r.i.p xx Stella.”
Alexandra Shulman, the editor of the UK edition of Vogue magazine, said Wilson “played a remarkable role in making the British fashion scene as successful and relevant as it is today”.
She added: “Her teaching and influence made a mark on so many of our leading designers. I will miss her outspoken views and her clever and often very funny observations.”
Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said: “Prof Louise Wilson, I can’t believe you have gone. You were much loved and respected. A legend and an inspiration. RIP”
Prof Jeremy Till, head of the college, said Wilson’s legacy would live on through her former students and colleagues.
“Louise has been an inspirational person both within the college and the wider world of fashion,” he said.
“Since becoming course director for MA Fashion in 1992 she has taught a huge proportion of the world’s leading fashion designers and her course continues to produce talented ground-breaking graduates.
“Her commitment to her students and passion for creative excellence are legendary. Her deep understanding of fashion and her drive for funding for bursaries, facilities and opportunities are part of what made her such an extraordinary educator.
“Central Saint Martins is grateful to have been able to enjoy the fruits of Louise’s great talent for educating for the last 22 years and will support her staff and students as they go forward from here.’’
Wilson attended art college before completing the Central Saint Martins course she went on to direct. She moved to Hong Kong following her graduation, finding work as a consultant and a designer before returning to the UK to teach at Central Saint Martins.
She also arranged for a number of her students to research and catalogue Pringle of Scotland’s extensive knitwear archive in Hawick.
In an interview in September 2011 she said her “formative education was in Jedburgh” and that her first fashion influence had been her mother.
“She owned Dior couture,” she said. “That makes her sound fabulous but it’s true. And there were always copies of Vogue around the house.”
“In those days, fashion didn’t exist like it does now. You had Wallis shops and they had a bad YSL rip-off and that was about it. So you made your own clothes to go out in at the weekend.”
She is survived by her partner Timmi and teenage son TJ.