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why cecily chose saint martins

The Young Designer sheds light on how she broke into the fashion school


February 2019

Growing up in rural Lincolnshire, fashion knitwear designer Cecily Cracroft-Eley’s “obsession” with studying at Central Saint Martins began at the age of fourteen. She recalls visiting a Hussein Chalayan exhibition whilst in Paris with her family, reminiscing that afterwards she thought, “it is incredible what you can do with clothing, and of course Chalayan went to Saint Martins. After that I just found out that more and more amazing people went there also and that’s what made me want to go.”


After studying an Art and Design foundation at Falmouth University in Cornwall, Cecily applied for Central Saint Martins, the only place she applied to for a fashion design BA course, telling me, “I knew that Saint Martins was the only place I could do the fashion I wanted to do.”


Whilst studying at Falmouth she developed a love for all things had crafted, gravitating towards sculpture initially, but after also getting university offers from Brighton, Chelsea and Glasgow to study fine art, she inevitably chose Fashion Knitwear at Saint Martins, a choice she described as “obvious.”


At age 18, shortly after she’d sent in her application to the university, Cracroft-Eley’s thirst to be a part of the University got the better of her. Through tricking the security guards at the barrier entrance to the building at 1 Granary Square, Cecily managed to sneak up to the acclaimed fashion studios, where she waited patiently to meet the legendary Willie Walters, director of BA fashion at the University. She expressed, “I don’t know what came over me, I was in a trance. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea I just did it.”

Eventually, after waiting hours, Cracroft-Eley crossed paths with Walters, who in an outburst of rage told her to “get out of the building!” She left embarrassed but even more eager to get accepted onto the course. She later explained, “What was really funny actually was that I saw her again in the interviews, luckily she didn’t say anything, but she must’ve recognised me. Maybe that’s why I got in?”

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