Student Run Central Saint Martins Fashion Blog

Category: projects

Art & Fashion: Hussein Chalayan at V&A as part of Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion

                                            Photograph by Irving Penn. Publihsed in Vogue, December 2003.

V&A is one of the greatest museums in the world and its installations and exhibitions often feature works of artists, musicians, architects and designers who studied at Central Saint Martins…we do not even mention the Fashion Galleries. Go and see Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, open from Sat 19 May 2012 –Sun 6 January 2013.

Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion (6th July – 29th July 2012) is a free display of works created in collaboration by leading fashion designers, most of whom are CSM alumni: Hussein Chalayan, Giles Deacon, Matthew Williamson, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katrantzou and milliner Stephen Jones, and notable artists from Britain. They have come together to celebrate and promote the creative relationship between fashion and art.


Yesterday 1Granary attended an evening talk at V&A where CSM’s notable alumni Hussein Chalayan and Gavin Turk, leading UK artist and RCA drop out, discussed their collaboration for Collusion display, with curator Susanna Greeves.

Hussein Chalayan + Gavin Turk:  ‘Four Minute Mile’ 2012

Unique copper master (used for the pressing of limited edition vinyl of the audio work ‘Four Minute Mile’). 61cm x 61cm. © Steven WhitePhotograph taken from http://www.britaincreates.com/presentation.aspx?pid=2Photograph: Stephen White

The talk was mainly about Hussein’s and Gavin’s collaboration on a beautiful vinyl disc and an audio track called Four Minute Mile, but they also spoke of their time back in university, their work and personal approach to art and design.


Here is some part of an interview with Hussen Chalayan:

 SG: You studied in one of the most prestigious art school in the world – Central Saint Martins; could you please speak about your time in university?

HC: Central Saint Martins was great, the campus was much smaller when I studied there and everyone used to hang out with each other because we were in the same building as Fine Art students. I didn’t think that I was being cool by hanging out with artists, it was so natural. Maybe since then Central Saint Martins got much more institutionalized; it is still an amazing institution, but it felt different on Charring Cross road.

Looking at your career, it seems that you could have chosen any other discipline than fashion; you could have been an architect or a designer equally. Did it feel like that to you at that point?

I was certainly of an idea’s person and I was very excited by clothes, so I thought I want to combine the two together. I loved design and was very much excited by the things that would evolve around the body in various ways. I didn’t really like labels, but was definitely very excited by clothes, so I guess my work has evolved in a certain way.

I remember when I was on Foundation course before Central Saint Martins, my tutors would actually say, “You know, you can also apply to an art course as well at Saint Martins.” But I thought that my work would be more interesting if I did fashion with my approach…somehow.

 Your work has been often on themes of displacement and duality, why so?

Well, I come from a war stricken place. It affects you. And it affected me, but in a good way because I can see from another person’s perspective. Muslim background, although I am not religious at all, makes me see the opinion of another… in a positive way. So, I feel lucky.

Did it establish certain types of rules and limitations on yourself by doing fashion in that prescribed mode of expression?

  Yes. The fact that you have to deliver collections all the time and the time of it is quite mechanical; I find it very difficult. I am not saying that artists don’t suffer from having to produce work quickly, but I definitely think that we are more in an industrial situation and there are financial restraints like there are for the artists as well. I also find that the product has to be perfect or near enough perfect, and you really strive for it to be perfect, but yes, it definitely affects the creative process.

I personally think that fashion is really tough.

You know, I’ve been in fashion for 18 years now and I never stop questioning myself. At times I feel like a hamster in a wheel… it never stops. I often think, do people really need more clothes? At times it is ridiculous to think about! I doubt if I need to go on, but then I also think that it is amazing…so, questioning never stops.

Interviewed by Collusion curator Susanna Greeves.


1Granary had an opportunity to ask one question:

Please share one particular memory when you were a student at Central Saint Martins.

One of my cherished memories would be the first day at Central Saint Martins. Back then, CSM was different, it was smaller and very hard to get into. Everything was much smaller than now, and then, everyone knew the faces much better. I remember how on the first day we were all crammed into one room at Charring Cross road and remember just how everyone was, everyone thought that they were special. It was also very competitive and people didn’t often speak to each other. (Laughs) I always got along much better with girls than boys. And I remember feeling like a sort of a catalyst. Later, I was introduced to some people, but they still weren’t speaking. Of course there were more interesting people than others, but fashion people often are not interested in different stuff, I would say. If you asked them some questions, they would say something like – “ I’m too intense.” (Laughs) Why be interested in only what other designers do or the 90’s fashion? I mean, I am interested in that too, but I do think that there are a lot of fashion people who are on their own planet. It can get boring.

But yes, the first day at Central Saint Martins, I would say, was quite special. It was like out of a film.

But of course, there are so many more memories of Central Saint Martins.

The Grayson Perry Project photo shoot for i-D online

1Granary gleefully presents Grayson Perry Project, especially shot for I-D Online.

Central Saint Martins’ 2nd year Fashion Print students, for the eighth consecutive year, had the joy of upgrading the wondrous wardrobe of Britain’s most celebrated artist, teddy-loving transvestite and University of the Arts Governor – Grayson Perry. The project started in 2004 when “Claire” – Grayson’s inner girl, went for shopping and run into Natalie Gibson – our beloved print tutor and lover of all pink, on the bus.

On the last day of school, 15 Print Kids, hopeful to please their superstar customer, offered desired variety of outfits: from girly dresses, a kimono, coats, knitted à la parisienne costume, a bike jacket to elegant evening frocks, some quite theatrical. The prints varied from architecture, puppies, abstract, skeletons to apocalypse, but mostly featured Alan Measles ‘A♥M’ – Grayson’s teddy-god, in quirky situations: in a womb, crucified and adored by angels, as Marie Antoinette and the A♥M LV-ish monogram – very commercial for CSM indeed!

Everyone did a great job, but there are always winners. Grayson presented the exquisite trophies by saying, “ The ‘Claire’ goes to…”:

GOLD: Stephanie Imma Cristofaro

SILVER: Richard Quinn

BRONZE:Darren Allard

We would like to thank Grayson Perry for tirelessly being our muse year by year, for a great interview and, most importantly, for being fabulous! Special thanks to our tutors: Natalie Gibson, Lindsay Taylor, Judith Strong, Patrick Lee Yow and Esme Young, who guide students through the creative chaos towards the light and meeting of deadlines! And we wish awesome summer holidays to 2nd year Print students, well done to all!

All photography: Kirill Kuletski

  Natalia Eyres

Richard Quinn

Stephanie Imma Cristofaro

Shoes and legs: Grayson’s own

Amie Boo Robertson

  Darren Allard

         Michael Griffin

      Padraic Buckley

Zoe ZhouAnna Skrobot

     Darren Allard

Frances Rose Knee

Grayson Perry’s Interview:

Who art you?

I am Grayson Perry the artist.

Please tell us about the “Grayson Perry Project”. How did it all began and what has it become over the years?

It started in 2004 when I bumped into Natalie Gibson, who ran fashion print at Saint Martins, on the bus when I was going for a shopping trip in the West End dressed up. She thought it would be great if the students designed and made me a dress. So the next year the project was born and it has been running now for eight years as the final project of the second year students. We have refined it each year to get the best out of the students and so they have a good time too hopefully. This year featured the usual ups and downs. The ups are enthusiasm and amazing designs beautifully made, the downs are laziness and lame ideas that go badly wrong! Every year I make trophies called ‘Claires’ like the Oscars only for second year print students. The three prize-winners this year were Stephanie, Richard and Darren who all made fab outfits.

Would Claire want to study design at CSM?

Claire would definitely do Fashion Print because she loves drawing stories and designing dresses. In another life maybe.

In your opinion, do all CSM kids have the same style/are alike?

CSM kids look like art students because that is what they are. The fashion ones are the best dressed naturally. I like to see young people making an effort to stand out, not enough people do that in the age of brands.

Is Central Saint Martins a special place?

CSM is one of the most famous art schools in the world and has a host of talented and famous alumni. It attracts great students from all over the world. The staff I work with are brilliantly experienced and sometimes, I don’t think the students really appreciate what an opportunity it is too work here.

What do you think about the Central Saint Martins’ new 1Granary building?

The new building is very impressive. It has had some teething problems. I think it will get better and better to work in as everyone gets used to it and more relaxed, an art school needs to feel lived in, a bit grubbier. I do miss Soho for the lunchtime restaurants, though the canteen is pretty good.

Recently, you have done wonderful series with Channel 4 on British taste and, as a result, have designed six beautiful tapestries. Would you do anything about your experiences at CSM?

I would like to make a TV program about the course at Central Saint Martins. The students definitely have a huge effect on how I dress up and design for myself. They have freed me completely from typical tranny habits. Each year the outfits become more diverse.

We read that you once squatted with Stephen Jones and used to compete with each other by wearing outrageous outfits to The Blitz?

There was a whole group squatting in Fitzrovia including Stephen Jones, also the Body Map people, the film maker John Maybury and the artist Cerith Wyn Evans, all scarily stylish to a yokel from Essex. People had no money, so wore things like outfits made of corrugated cardboard found in a skip or just bodypaint in the nude. Boy George had a phase dressing as a sort of Brittania figure.

What music do you listen to?

All sorts, country, classical, pop. My 20 year old daughter has downloaded a lot through my laptop, so I get to like her taste. She introduced me to Frank Turner, who I like a lot. I’m doing an hour on BBC radio 6 music soon as a DJ!!

What is the world without art to you?

It would not be human, we are meaning makers and art is a search for meaning.

Special thanks to i-D online

Art direction and text: Altynai Osmoeva


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