1 Granary Magazine - Issue 3

Dazzling in an Age of Austerity

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The course director of École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne on realistically preparing fashion design students for the industry - from being a pattern maker to toiliste or head designer.

Céline Toledano is a familiar name in the circuit of Parisian fashion education. She started her career as Karl Lagerfeld’s right hand in the 80’s, working as his collection director for six years, then moved on to execute similar leadership roles at (pre-Phoebe Philo) Céline, Nina Ricci and Sonia Rykiel. In 2010, the dancer-turned-designer decided, together with Stéphane Wargnier, to create an additional fourth year programme for the curriculum of iconic 89-year-old École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, which counts Issey Miyake, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent among its alumni. Currently working for luxury headhunting agency m-O Conseil alongside teaching emerging designers the realities of the industry, she is aptly tapped into the market and understands what young talent needs to develop in order to thrive. We sat down in her office on Rue Réaumur, tea on the side, to discuss the change state of fashion and how the Parisian school is carving

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Central Saint Martins MA Fashion graduate Camille Grapin explores sensuality, sophistication and empowerment in her designs.

Camille Grapin’s mother could find a dozen reasons not to wear the dress her twelve-year-old daughter had made for her. “It was a strapless dress – this kind of gown – and I had even embroidered things on it,” the Montpellier-born designer recalls, just outside the MA Fashion studios of Central Saint Martins. Her french accent is thick (as is her hair, a dark chestnut curtain that sits at her collarbone). “It was awful, you know, this baby pink sheet. Awful. But I was so sure it was good, and my sister and I spent hours doing fittings in the garden. When I offered it to my mother and she would never wear it, I couldn’t understand.” Stories like this are one of many for Camille; fashion and family have always gone hand in hand. “I wanted to do fashion because of my twin sister, Pauline,” she explains. “When we

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Different City, Different Self: Central Saint Martins MA Fashion graduate Ashley Kang explains what building a relationship with a city entails in a fashion context.

From Foundation to MA Knitwear, Ashley Kang has been studying at Central Saint Martins for the past six years. Originally from South Korea, Ashley moved around from country to country at a young age before settling in London. Having lived in France, the Philippines, and the USA, as well as in England and Korea, she began to explore the idea of developing a connection between herself and her past. “I really love the personal relationship I have with the cities I lived in,” she says. Ashley’s experiences became central to her creative process, which eventually led to working on her graduate collection entitled Layers of Memory. Staying in college from 8.30AM to 10PM each day, Ashley has only had a couple of hours to herself, in which she was able to meet with friends or relax before heading to bed for an early morning the next day. Telling us about some

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“I want them to feel good in what they do. I want them to feel meaningful.”

Fabio Piras exhibits the kind of touching dedication to learning that usually results in students standing on desks to recite Walt Whitman. Despite the huge amount of respect afforded to him by the MA designers and the fashion industry generally, he remains surprisingly humble about the influence that he has, and describes working with his students as “a huge, huge privilege”. Somehow he also manages to avoid sounding sanctimonious. Possibly because he often pauses to grimace at his own sentimentality or preface his comments with phrases like “well it’s a cliché, but…” or “I don’t want to sound romantic or New Age-y…” Possibly because he balances inspiration with a fierce practicality. There’s no Dead Poets Society Robin Williams nonsense about ripping up textbooks to throw away important context for Fabio Piras. Instead he reminds his students constantly of the world waiting for them beyond their art, beyond the creative bubble

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Central Saint Martins MA Fashion graduate Alexander Krantz on not taking shortcuts in the design process.

Alexander Krantz grew up in rural Stockholm, the son of two dancers – a hippie child. There was no fashion, no Vogue magazine, but always an interest in dress and how he could stage himself. The relationship was emotional, budding at fourteen when he realized that fashion was an actual profession, not just a passion. Alex recalls buying fabric from the local stores, only dreaming in wonderment about the life of a designer. He went on to study a BA in fashion design at Stockholm’s Beckmans College of Design. His graduation was met with numerous accolades – modestly, he barely mentions these – and a job at H&M. The commercial success of his designs for the Swedish megabrand instilled a confidence that fashion could be a real career. But, Central Saint Martins wasn’t far off. “I just had this feeling after my BA that was so,” he pauses, “I knew

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From Annie Leibovitz to Jane Birkin and Claire Barrow: Central Saint Martins FCP student Millie Grace Horton documents 19 women from the creative industry in their spaces.

With the Foundation Show opening today and Degree Show One being barely two weeks away, it somehow feels apt to already feel a bit nostalgic for the past moments of creation, and how intensely they were experienced. The loyal studio bench won’t be yours anymore as of next month, the print room will close its doors to you, and the familiar grinding of knitting machines won’t be the same in your future work place. It’s a time to celebrate that what we have lived here, and bring it with us to the next phase. In this moment of renewal and progress, imminent Fashion Communication and Promotion graduate Millie Grace Horton looked at the spaces in which the creative process takes place. From photographers to curators and fashion designers, she interviewed 19 women for her final project: SEINE. “I found swimming to be somewhere I could think creatively, and I wanted to explore other creative spaces that

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Poeticizing male sensuality and the hedonism of youth, meet Central Saint Martins MA Fashion graduate Alexandre Arsenault.

“I’m grateful for my technical background: if I want to start a business, I know how to deal with cash flow, and how to navigate the business side of things like marketing. There’s also the technical aspects: I wouldn’t need to hire pattern-makers, I can sew like a technician: in the end it saves money.” Growing up in Montreal, Alexandre Arsenault was drawn into fashion from the very moment that he began to choose his own clothes. It became apparent to him that fashion was a tool for expression, experimentation and fantasy: a fluid vessel which transforms the wearer. Throughout our conversation, I quickly grasp that such insights are frequent to Alexandre, who has an acute awareness of his practice and process and reveals that he takes his biggest inspiration from that which surrounds him. Such surroundings come in the form of friends and, more broadly speaking, in the attitudes

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Central Saint Martins MA Fashion graduate Grace Weller tells us how she laced her collection together

It’s a certain antithesis that comes to mind when Grace Weller arrives at our interview. Unassuming, and dressed in her (self-confessed ‘‘scruffy’’) uniform of T-shirt, jeans and boots, Grace is not the woman she designs for – not superficially, at least. Born in London, Weller’s home is now Buckinghamshire, where she spent her teenage years. Her childhood, described as a smörgåsbord of creativity and wholesome pastimes reads like a picture book of country living. “I had an amazing childhood,” says the designer. “I was encouraged to be creative from a young age, and when my parents moved to Buckinghamshire I took up riding competitively- I had always been obsessed with horses.” There’s a fondness to these tales that speaks for Weller’s willingness to return to her home after her first year of MA at CSM. “I was living in south London with friends at first,” says Weller. “But I soon

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