Saint Martin’s School of Art

or Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts. English fashion school founded in 1854. It is considered the “Sorbonne of fashion,” a hotbed of talent and the most prestigious school of fashion and design in the United Kingdom. Its slightly decadent classrooms opposite Charing Cross have seen the leading figures of the British new wave pass through: McQueen, the soul of Givenchy, Galliano, the revolutionary of Dior, Ozbek, Berardi, Oldfield, Hamnet, and Stella McCartney who is responsible for the Chloé collection. Courses last between 3 and 5 years. It costs »1,600 a year to study there for a member of the European Community, but »6,000 a year for everyone else. Having taken A-levels, students have to get through a very tough selection process to be admitted, which is based on an interview and an exam revolving around the candidate’s book of drawings and sketches. Once awarded a place (150 chosen from on average 700 applications), the students can attend a wide range of classes in a variety of directions: menswear, womenswear, cut, and fabrics. There is intense competition among students and a highly stimulating atmosphere. At the end of each year only a group of students are allowed to show their work in the final exhibition: a personal collection who parade in front of an audience comprising buyers and designers who have been invited from around the world.