London College of Fashion
Several former specialist schools have coalesced into the London College of Fashion, of which the oldest was Shoreditch Technical Institute Girls’ School, founded in 1906, while the latest addition has been Cordwainers College, where Jimmy Choo honed his shoemaking skills. The most significant of the LCF’s constituents was Barrett Street Trade School.
Barrett Street is nowadays known (if known at all) as the thoroughfare that connects Mr Selfridge’s grand emporium with would-be-trendy St Christopher’s Place. Between the wars Barrett Street school built a strong reputation, originally for teaching teenagers the basics of dressmaking and tailoring, and subsequently for breeding fashion designers. Harry Gordon Selfridge cultivated close ties with the school and would come along to present students with their diplomas.
In 1963 the newly created London College of Fashion broke with the past in both its ethos and the architecture of its headquarters overlooking Oxford Street (shown below). Progressive members of staff embraced the culture of ‘Swinging London’ and, though it looks a little dowdy today, the building was considered a marvel of modernity at the time.
Now part of the University of the Arts London, the LCF has sites at Lime Grove, Mare Street, Curtain Road (home to most of the college’s fashion, textiles and design courses) and Golden Lane. Facilities at its new unit in High Holborn include the Student Hub, an arts gallery and a language centre.
Plans are afoot to relocate the entire college to a new building on Stratford Waterfront. When completed, the building will be one of the largest dedicated to the study and research of fashion in the world.