Last Summer in Wales

By Steph Jones

Sarah Burton’s Autumn/Winter 2020 collection at Alexander Mcqueen began with a visit to Wales and was inspired by stories of Celtic myths and rich landscapes. As always, Sarah was keen to encourage the local youth to get involved, using the brand’s influence to support communities in creative growth and art education. Working with a small group of young people from Blaina Community Centre in an active community project, they created a beautiful book and film, releasing today. Read more about Last Summer in Wales here.

McQueen sent members off their team to Wales over the period to work alongside the young people getting them involved in all areas of the creative process. Filmmaker, Charlotte James and documentary photographer, Clémentine Schneidermann worked with the group sharing their skills and creating the final images and film. Both have connections to the Welsh countryside and a playful, collaborative approach to documentation, creating a sense of warmth and comfort in their work for Last Summer in Wales.

Photo by Clémentine Schneidermann

The diary-like film made to document the project, is simply beautiful, with a free sensibility, combining the voices of the children involved with dream-like visuals captured by the team in Wales. We hear the unfiltered voices of the group talk about their experience growing up in the area, and about the myths and legends of the land.

If I was the lady of the lake:

“I’d pay for a room for people who don’t have anywhere to live”

“I’d make visiting times to see the dead and jump into the lake to talk to them”

“I would make all boring people have a sense of humour”

Getting involved in all parts of the creative process was important and the group was given a choice of what part they were interested in from the very beginning. Some helped with casting, scouting models that resonate with them, others got an insight into alteration and styling, all documenting the development of ideas using sketchbooks and photographs taken on polaroid cameras. Guided to capture their own visions of the project, the young people documented their experience behind the scenes and also set up their own makeshift studios and self-directed shoots, learning to use cameras and lighting, exploring self-expression.

Each of the young people created a diary of their experience working on the project, drawing and writing about their nerves of being in front of the camera and their excitement and intrigue of seeing the crew at work. Pages of their diaries included illustrations, doodles, annotations, thoughts and feelings and were then included in the final book.

Photo by Clémentine Schneidermann Diary entry by Melody and Dan

A group of the girls were dressed in lavender cotton silk faille dresses from the A/W 20 show, scaled-down versions of look 13. The dresses were inspired by Welsh women in the poetry of Dylan Thomas with added red detailing and matching hats, they stood out against the green hills they frolicked on.

Some of the young people chose to take part in an embroidery workshop which happened over zoom, they were sent packs, prepared with silk thread, beads and needles to follow along with step-by-step tutorials to help them achieve their visions. The final printed fabric images were adorned with personal messages, hand stitching and beading in the colours of the collection and are shown in the final book.

Embroidery by Crystal

One year on Alexander McQueen is publishing the book which documents the project and celebrates unfiltered creativity, including the original images from the four-day shoot as well as the young people’s contributions. With Sarah Burton’s ongoing commitment to fashion education, we can’t wait to see more projects like this in the future, helping to inspire and uplift the voices and creative minds of the youth.

In other McQueen news, the brand is launching a mini version of their curve bag seen in pre-SS 22, the leather crossbody bag comes in a range of colourways four of which are covered in hotfix crystals for those who want a bit of added sparkle. Inspired by the harness silhouette with a polished leather finish, this little gem bag has a sculptural shape and a modern minimal style fit for anyone.

Read more about the McQueens youth collaboration project here

Film and directed by Sebastian Bruno @sbruno, edited by Jacob Parish @jacob_parish_dop

If you enjoyed reading Last summer in Wales why not read Better Together