On Giving a shit and why Louise Wilson got it so right
There's a difference between laziness and cynicism and that difference is called Giving A Shit.
There's a photo that's been shared over social media the last few days with certain circles and their friends, it's of a post Professor Louise Wilson, OBE, posted to her Central Saint Martins noticeboard and it's probably the most important thing you need to read this year.
To take a few choice phrases: 'Trust your fucking gut. Make it fucking sustainable. Question fucking everything.'
Now Giving A Shit isn't something you wake up doing and maybe you don't think you've found the cause you need to ignite the kind of passion Wilson showed for her students and the fashion industry on a daily basis for 22 years of tutoring. But maybe, Matrix comparisons aside, waking up to the reality of some of the industries we pay into would be a good start. Give A Shit about what you spend your pay cheque on, who you patronise, and the opinions you allow to effect your own, because that's all money is at the end of the day: who gets your time.
Although I have a handful of friends from CSM that were taught by Wilson, the only way I ever got to learn about her was through the eyes of her multitudes of lovers and haters. I am fascinated by the visceral reactions Wilson garnered throughout her career, which is largely attributed for turning London Fashion Week into the diverse, lean, eccentric and at all times surprising machine that it is today. Here was a person that didn't compromise an ounce more than needed. Someone that ignited fear by calling out the bull, someone, maybe amongst only a handful in our popular consciousness, that we should actually be looking up to in an age of endless press releases, pomp and circumstance.
People were enthralled by Wilson. Like Grace Coddington and Isabella Blow, she always had someone to champion other than herself, and lived her life for her protégés. Curating talent through the generations she brought up at CSM, Wilson will be remembered for refusing to succumb to the lazy, the vapid or the inane. Her voice was so distinct that I only needed to read the first two lines of her memorial post to guess who had chosen it. After every single media outlet that pretends to care has regurgitated the same facts and skim-read Wikipedia for the others, I guarantee Wilson's own words for her memoriam will cut a far deeper impression. Which is why her death last week is such an honest loss, and why we need to treasure people like Wilson that have the nous to guide and shape the talent of future generations in the same way we hold up the movers and shakers, the bright young things and the PYTs.
Even if you never once met or heard of Louise Wilson, if you do nothing else this year, take her words to heart and see where they get you. Give A Shit.
Photograph by Alison Rasch, 2014