MCQUEEN OF WALES: Sarah Burton and her team at Alexander McQueen have extended their fashion education outreach to the wilds of Wales with a design and photography project that’s resulted in a book, and a documentary-style film, both of which can be viewed on the brand’s site as of Monday.
In summer 2020, McQueen’s staff members worked with students, aged 12 to 17, from the valleys of South Wales, conducting fashion, photography and embroidery workshops aimed at encouraging the young people to explore their own creative vision, and experience life in the industry.
The initiative was a follow-up from Burton’s fall 2020 collection, which drew inspiration from the country’s landscape and crafts, poetry and literature.
The McQueen team worked with Charlotte James, a Welsh creative director and filmmaker, and Clémentine Schneidermann, a French documentary photographer who is based in Wales, on the project.
McQueen said the youths’ sketches, research, writing, embroidery, photographs and fittings with the brand’s atelier culminated in a four-day shoot by James and Schneidermann around locations in Wales such as Brynmawr, Abertillery Park, Blaina, Keeper’s Pond Blaenavon and Ogmore-by-Sea.
More than a year after the shoot, the brand has published a book documenting the project called “Alexander McQueen in Wales.” The book, and an accompanying documentary-style film, can be accessed on the company’s website in a section called Unlocking Stories. There is also information about the brand’s educational initiatives, and related fashion films from past projects with students.
“We’ve all been inspired by the experience of being able to make a practical connection with this collaboration with young people in Wales,” said Burton.
“Community values and the belief in offering creative opportunities to young people are at the heart of what we believe at Alexander McQueen, and this record of what we all learned together last year is a testament to what transformative things can happen everywhere when empowering equal access to creative ideas,” she added.
Schneidermann said that to her and James, “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. We try to raise an awareness, and a sense of familiarity with creative skills and art in general through the workshops and the photography shoots.”
The Welsh project is part of Burton’s broader commitment to fashion education.
Beginning in 2019, the designer dedicated an entire floor of the McQueen Bond Street flagship in London to student education, creating open-access installations and study programs for school-age, college and university students across the U.K.
McQueen has also been making ongoing donations to students, redistributing leftover materials for student collections.