Last Summer in Wales
Alexander McQueen takes us South West with a hazy summer diary made in collaboration with the children of Wales.
Last Summer, Sarah Burton and the rest of the McQueen team called upon the extended community of Ffasiwn Stiwdio, a creative studio helmed by Welsh creative director Charlotte James and French documentary photographer Clémentine Schneidermann, to help bring Burton’s FW20 collection to life.
The educational collaboration draws on James and Schneidermann’s work with young people growing up in Merthyr Tydfil, James’ hometown, and the nearby town of Brynmawr in Wales. Most are attendees of various youth organisations in The Valleys, like Coed Cae Interact Club, Rotary Brynmawr and Gellideg Foundation group, and have been co-producing fashion shoots and various research projects with the Ffasiwn Stiwdio team over the last six years.
“Our aim with the workshops and photoshoots has been to give young people an understanding of the creative industries, the ability to create in their own environment while collaborating with us and other artists,” says James. Schneidermann echoes this mission, explaining that fashion has never been a goal in itself, “but more an excuse to generate ideas and opportunities. Our main focus has always been photography and creative workshops in the broadest sense.“
Coordinated by Michelle Hurter, a youth worker at Blaina Community Centre, Burton’s team held a series of immersive zoom sessions with a group of twelve to seventeen-year-olds to give a glimpse into all that goes into the house’s design research. The teens then responded with a variety of sketches, writing, embroidery and photographs that would form the basis of a four-day shoot across the country to explore their visions in vivid detail.
A year after shooting at Welsh hotspots such as Abertillery Park, Blaina, Keeper’s Pond Blaenavon and Ogmore-by-Sea, the ensuing magic has been documented in a book published by Alexander McQueen, aiming to celebrate the creative energy of this unique cast and crew, as well as all those who helped along the way. Titled Last Summer in Wales, this olive branch to the next generation of fashion image-makers shows that when we’re all granted equal creative opportunity, magic can happen.
Check out McQueen’s ‘Last Summer in Wales’ mini-documentary below.