Louise on a horse

Yesterday I attended a Memorial Service at St Paul’s Cathedral in honour of UAL CSM Fashion Professor Louise Wilson. Coinciding with the beginning of London Fashion Week, it was of course in many ways an industry affair (although thankfully there were some more personal moments – including Louise’s son sharing the story of his father first falling for his mother as an ‘Alison Moyet lookalike’).

Grief is never easy, and the tendency to formalise it is probably inevitable, even when it is not so public. But this was very public, and today the papers are full of pictures of Kanye West, Victoria Beckham, and an anonymous woman on a horse:

The papers report ‘this eerie celebration of Wilson’s childhood love of horseriding was created by Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen’.

On the back of the service booklet was a nice image of Louise on her own horse jumping hurdles (“I rode horses competitively from zero to 17 years old,” she told the Telegraph – an unlikely achievement for a baby, but in keeping with her phenomenal reputation for success).

In any event, Louise Wilson has now finished the race, having fought the good fight, as the (biblical) saying goes. In his eulogy, the creative director of Lanvin, Alber Elbaz, said that she was now in ‘a far-away place called heaven’, and that he hopes she is in ‘the highest and most comfortable part of heaven’.

It may be churlish to be critical at such a time, but I couldn’t help thinking that Elbaz imagined heaven as a kind of aspirational luxury brand. Apart from the teaching that the kingdom of heaven is among you, my hope is that by the time we get to heaven (insha’Allah) we may be able to finally let go of our hierarchical notions of success (usually expressed as images of total confidence, but often based on anxiety and the fear of failure)

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13.12)

Rest (or ride on) in peace, Louise.


Louisa On A Horse by John Otway, AKA ‘Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure’


21.02.15