Goodbye Charing Cross Road!

When I first moved to London as a naive Northerner fresh out of fashion college, I applied to do an MA at Central Saint Martins. The formidable Bobby Hilson interviewed me and when she asked me ‘if they taught fashion drawing’ on my degree course, I knew I hadn’t got in! I remember feeling overwhelmed and a little scared when walking the corridors of the Charing Cross Road building, so perhaps it wasn’t for me.
Returning years later to see the BA and MA shows (Galliano’s and McQueen’s were seminal fashion moments) and to lecture on courses, I still felt a sense of wonder at the talent that this magnificent, ramshackle building had seen come through the doors over the years.

Saint Martins students have always been in a league of their own and the fashion students ‘owned’ the 1980’s club scene. While we newcomers to London had our own groups of wonderful weirdos and inhabited the same clubs as the Saint Martins crowd, they were in a different league, with a style and confidence that came from knowing they were 100% in the right place at the right time. They were living their fashion nirvana.

The Charing Cross Road building will be shutting it’s doors for the last time this summer, as the ‘Saint Martins School of Art’, is moving to swish new premises in Kings Cross. All the ex students and staff I know, love the old building despite its impracticalities and fear the move may mean they loose some of their unique and individual edge.

Ex student Katie Grand threw a party last Friday night to bid farewell to the building, and as expected, it was a star studded, messy affair and featured a set from Pulp.

My Saint Martins memories are set firmly in the 80’s, when fashion students such as Stephen Jones, John Galliano, Kim Bowen, Melissa Caplan, Stephen Linard and many many more, paraded the dance floors of Le Beat Route, Kinky Gerlinky, and The Wag Club in the mostly fabulously ridiculous outfits.  Soho was a much more interesting place to be when the fashion students were in charge, back in the day!


  • Louise says:

    You’ve brought back memories! My sister was a fashion student at St Martins in the ’80’s and I remember visiting the student bar as a green behind the ear gawping foundation student, going to student fashion shows and hanging out in Pollo’s (the unofficial student canteen) and wasn’t that the time Ally Capellino had her fab shop in Soho? Ahh, those were great times….

  • Jane says:

    Ahh Louise Pollos was where we ate our dinner before going for drinks at the Soho Brasserie. Yes I still miss that Ally Capellino shop.

    Much as I love Old Compton Streets air of Mott Street in NYC, it’s not quite as alternative as it was then!
    Good times

  • Liz Brighton says:

    Thanks so much for the film, I love it. I didn’t know it was closing, end of an era. I was actually there in the early eighties, with Galliano, Stephen Jones etc being taught by the ‘formidable’ but amazing Bobby Hillson. It was a crazy time. Wish I had been invited to the after Party!

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