PARIS — Students at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, which this week will celebrate its move to King’s Cross, have also tightened ties with the world’s largest luxury goods group.
This story first appeared in the November 14, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has sponsored a 500-seat lecture theater at the heart of the campus, introduced a scholarship program and committed to recruit interns for its 60-plus brands, which include Fendi, Givenchy, Sephora, Krug and Guerlain as well as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.
“We are in an industry where creativity is our lifeblood,” said Chantal Gaemperle, LVMH’s senior vice president of human resources and synergies, disclosing details of what is described as a “long-term strategic collaboration” with the school.
She declined to reveal how much the French firm is investing, but characterized it as a “significant contribution.” The contract calls for a minimum three-year commitment, but Gaemperle said LVMH’s intention is for an ongoing alliance.
Some 28 graduates from Central Saint Martins are employed full-time by LVMH, mostly in fashion and accessories, she noted.
Three creative directors — Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, Céline’s Phoebe Philo and Vuitton’s men’s wear’s Kim Jones — are graduates of CSM, which has also turned out such talents as John Galliano, Lee Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Stella McCartney and Stephen Jones.
The lecture hall, one of the largest in the school, is demarcated with a wavelike sculpture at the entrance conceived by graduates and is to host an annual LVMH Lecture, Gaemperle said. The first is slated for January, but the program has yet to be finalized.
LVMH has already named the first recipients of its Grand Prix scholarships, which covers tuition for their final year of the college’s B.A. Fashion course, plus a portion of living expenses. They are Tigran Avetisyan in men’s wear; Jessica Mort in fashion print, and James Oliver Ward in women’s wear.
Gaemperle said winners were selected on the basis of their creative talent, professional potential and financial need.
Ward is among CSM students who have already completed an internship at the Paris-based group, working in the design studio of Dior. At any given moment, LVMH has more than 30 interns from CSM working across its companies.
Gaemperle noted that the group also calls in students on a project basis, frequently at its London think tank LVMH House, where they might be enlisted to propose new bottle designs for Champagne brands, or give input on mobile phones for fashion or jewelry brands. Students can help the luxury group “look at things with new lenses, new ideas and new perspectives,” she said.
Some 4,000 CSM students have decamped to the new home of the University of the Arts London, which comprises six colleges. Other corporate sponsors of CSM include L’Oréal Professional, Swarovski, Cartier, Bally and Pringle.
LVMH collaborates with design schools in such far-flung places as Russia, Hong Kong, Tokyo and the U.S., Gaemperle noted.
Yet she allowed that CSM, capitalizing on London’s reputation as a hotbed of creative expression, continues to attract top-caliber students. “I’m always struck when I go to London by the creative energy,” she said.