Anne McCloy is one of the many reasons St. Martins is so special. We have incredible people like Anne to guide us through projects, talk about our nights out, and aspire to on the future nights out. Anne, your such an inspiration to not give a shit about anything! We love you! To all our first year Fashion readers, Anne will be one of the tutors for the White Project that is coming up. If you are lucky enough to have her, your life will be that much better.
1G: What do you think of this new campus?
AM: Maybe you notice it less now, Charing Cross was a lot more scruffy and groovy how everyone hung out. It was a different feel there. This is a completely different place all together, it’s like coming in to a bloody bank here.
1G: We’re waiting for the moment for someone to draw in the toilet!
AM: Maybe I should do it…
1G: We had a party and everyone drew over the walls, swear words and obscenities, but they painted over it. Everyone has been saying that this building ‘raises the level of our design’. They say that at the old building, we’ll create lots of old vintage/granny stuff… Portobello Road style. People have started to think there should be something more.
AM: But what more? Maybe those are the things that make it (CSM). It’s having an eye for something different, what is ‘more’. Where are you going to get your ideas from?
1G: It’s trying to be more contemporary. Not going to Hoxton all the time.
AM: You should always be thinking contemporary anyway! You can always bring those things through, know what I mean? Everything you do should be contemporary – everything is coming from somewhere!
1G: Some of the students now just look as though they’ve been to Brick Lane and taken something from there.
AM: That’s not going to change that much though is it?
1G: We’ve got more space now… it’s much more open.
AM: As long as you know the space and stuff, but I still wouldn’t want to be coming and looking at this shit. That’s shit! That doesn’t deserve to be hanging up. A crisp packet, a shoe and a pair of knickers made from coffee cups… who is responsible? That aesthetic is just trash.
1G: Did you see the christmas tree that we had?
AM: Everyone was complaining about it. What the hell was that all about? Some stupid little christmas tree.
1G: The tutors are saying how different we are now. How we don’t make comments, we are not as crazy, we are not dressed up everyday. The tutors are trying to compare us, is it true that we are so different from the previous students?
AM: You look different in this building. Maybe it’s because you’re in a different context, but you do look different. Charing Cross Road was a comfortable size to be in. Here you are dwarfed, it has a real browny-grey quality to it. Charing Cross was a white space. There are going to be positives and negatives, I don’t know if you are dressing differently or not, I just think there are going to be all these other disciplines around you. The environment too, walking round the streets are different. You’re not living in Soho, you’re not hanging out and having coffee. It was those sorts of things that added to it I think. It was more comfortable and more intimate. Time will tell.
1G: Do you like teaching here less?
AM: I’ve only done two projects. I didn’t like coming here the first time, I hated coming here everyday. I felt as though I was in the middle of a commuter belt. It’s when you get off at Kings Cross and suddenly there are people rushing everywhere with suitcases and big lorries. I was like ‘eurgh!’ This is what I’ve been trying to avoid in London all these years – feeling as though I was going to work!
1G: None of the tutors teach for money at this college.
AM: Everyone says they don’t teach for money, but this isn’t what they do all the time. Sometimes they need to do a bit.
1G: Do you have any other reasons for teaching here?
AM: When I was here I really enjoyed it. When I left, I gave it a few years to come back. I was starting my own label at the time, but I said I would like to do some teaching – a lot of people do it to supplement there own work as well. I started working with the first years, and I’ve been doing it since 2000. The Saint Martins experience was really important to me, I enjoyed being at college. It was really important for me.
I applied one year, but didn’t get in. I’d been doing bits of night classes and stuff, but they said to do the art foundation. So I went and did it and got in. For me, it was a great experience, I really found the whole creative process in myself. I opened out to it all. In a way I hope I can pass on a bit of that experience if I can.
1G: Do you get any inspiration from students?
AM: Not ideas wise. I’m not working in the fashion industry at the minute. It’s when you see someone doing something and they turn out to do something really good. That’s inspirational in itself. They really click and find something within the project that really changes the way they work. Sometimes you have to crack through these things. Not boundaries or things in your head, but maybe just the way you work.
1G: When you see students at the start of a project do you judge them on how they dress?
AM: No! I’d be in trouble if people judged me. I judge you on what I see in your sketchbook and how you interact!
1G: Does it matter how we dress?
AM: You’re either cool or you’re… not. Everybody makes an effort with the way they dress. I’m always a scruff bag. I think it’s going to be different when you go for interviews and work because you’ll obviously have to present yourself a certain way. I think the way you dress can be very indicative, the way you think and design. I don’t see the point on judging like that. If I see something I like, something groovy I’ll say ‘that’s cool’. Ultimately its about the time I’m working with you and your interaction with me. I always say ‘come to class’, I want to talk to you and see what you’re doing. You can see people develop and who are more reserved and defensive about their work, that can concern you but they have to be prepared to bring that out of themselves.
1G: Do you think that drugs are important for designers or artists?
AM: Obviously not – have you seen the sign in the canteen?! ‘No needles. No pills. No heroin. Or you will get handcuffed’!
Lets talk alcohol and drugs together, so we don’t go anywhere illegal. You know if you go out one night and scribble or draw, I look back at it in the morning like what a load of shit. I trust myself straight. That’s when I think I make the best ideas sober. However saying that, some of my best friends did their final collection on Speed – I did it on coffee and sugar and sleep deprivation. I don’t think any of those things are very creative, I guess you could try and see what happens.
1G: Lots of students have been through your hands, do you see people you think that will be very famous?
AM: It’s the students I meet with enthusiasm and some level of talent within them, usually at my weekend classes, but it’s as much their character than anything else. Theres always something magnetic about their character… but that could just be how I get on with them.
1G: What do you think is more important, the talent or other qualities?
AM: I think to be a designer you have to be applied in your process, very hard working and focussed. I think there are so many different aspects that you have to master. Whether its the research process, interacting and expanding on the research. Then it’s the process of technicalities, cutting and creating – all the precision. There are all these skills you need, I think to be a designer you need to be focused.
1G: Is there any mistakes people repeatedly make?
AM: You have to make those mistakes yourselves! You do see stuff coming up over and over again. But it’s the first time everyone does it, you have to let everyone have their mistakes.
1G: Do you think that your cooperation with the Babyshambles influenced your work?
AM: I don’t know what hanging around with Babyshambles did to me. I was just doing the merchandise for them, but I could have done the job with my eyes closed. On one level it was a bit of an outlet for me, to be in charge of something. Creatively it hasn’t been inspiring, it wasn’t the way I liked working on my own projects. Its been good on other levels with the perks, going out and doing the music thing, touring. Being around that whole environment, it’s a whole different world. How that will influence me – I don’t know. I might just have to write a book! It’s good because I perform a bit too, so I’d get up and perform a bit too.
1G: Who have you taught? We want gossip!
AM: I didn’t teach Christopher Kane or any of that lot… you could talk to Sue?
1G: We were supposed to interview her last week but she went to a bar with Neil instead.
AM: Thats typical Saint Martins. Apparently, the secret bar below the Phoenix in Charing Cross Road, Saint Martins was barred from there at one point – obviously from drinking there too heavily in the afternoons. When I was at Saint Martins, we worked really hard but we went out in Soho – me and my friends Erika and Danny – we used to go round Soho and end up in the dodgy late night secret bars.
AM: Let me ask you a question, what do you think about Victoria Beckham? The idea that she’s set herself up as a designer.
1G: I’ve heard that Antonio Berradi is making her collections. Her collection is structured and well made, looks perfect.
AM: She’s got money herself and can afford an amazing team to make it all for her.
1G: Then why did Jennifer Lopez fail doing high fashion?
AM: She might be the person who someone approaches and asks to make a collection. Like Liam Gallagher is involved in Pretty Green – thats other people coming to him and asking.
I’d call Victoria a ‘pointing’ designer. A designer who points, ‘I want that in that colour’ or ‘Just move that pocket down a bit’ or ‘I don’t like that fabric’. That attitude is how I would imagine her to be because some people don’t understand the extent of work of ‘just moving a pocket’.
1G: Someone used to say that if you have one idea you’ll stick to it all your life, but if you give ideas away, it will make you produce new ones all the time. If you give ideas away all your life, you make more and more.
AM: Thats what you do learn here that you can have lots of ideas, and if someone copies you, you can make more. When you leave, it’s more who your connections are.
At Saint Martins don’t you find that you know so many people from different nationalities? I don’t even know how many English people I know – I’m sure I do know some! I’m Irish ,but I know so many different people!