• Home
  • Education
  • News
  • Alexander McQueen shares creative youth collaboration in Wales

Alexander McQueen shares creative youth collaboration in Wales

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


Scroll down to read more


Image: Alexander McQueen by Clémentine Schneidermann

Alexander McQueen has unveiled that in 2020 it undertook a creative educational youth programme in Wales to open up fashion to a new generation, as part of the label’s ongoing commitment to fashion education.

Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen has launched a number of fashion education initiatives over the years, including open-access installations and study programmes to school-age, college and university students across the UK, and a scheme to donate and redistribute left-over materials for student collections.

Its latest project in Wales followed Burton, taking inspiration from Wale’s landscape, crafts, poetry and literature for her autumn/winter 2020 womenswear collection for the brand. During her research trip, Burton and her design team met Welsh creative director and filmmaker Charlotte James and documentary photographer Clémentine Schneidermann, who have been working creatively with youth groups in Wales for six years under their project Ffasiwn Stiwdio with school-age children in South Wales.

This led to a creative youth collaboration conceptualised by James and Schneidermann with the McQueen team and coordinated by youth worker Michelle Hurter at Blaina Community Centre. The educational project launched in June 2020 and offered fashion, customisation and photography workshops, giving young people in the valleys of South Wales access to hands-on experiences to make clothes and images.

Image: Alexander McQueen by Clémentine Schneidermann

Commenting on the project, Sarah Burton said in a statement: “We’ve all been inspired by the experience of being able to make a practical connection with this collaboration with young people in Wales.

“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.”

Alexander McQueen and Sarah Burton showcase youth talent in Wales with new educational project

Image: Alexander McQueen by Clémentine Schneidermann

Over months of on-off restrictions, members of the McQueen team travelled to Wales to collaborate with the group of 12 to 17-year-olds from Brynmawr and Merthyr Tydfil in Covid-secure sessions in fashion, photography, and embroidery, with workshops continuing remotely when the design team couldn’t travel.

James said: “We’ve been working with most of the young people for six years, including their families and youth workers. They attend Rotary Brynmawr, Coed Cae Interact Club and Gellideg Foundation group, which are youth organisations in The Valleys.

“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.”

Image: Alexander McQueen

The school-age children were introduced to the stories behind the McQueen autumn/winter 2020 collection from the Welsh folklore to the textile traditions and were encouraged to freely explore fashion - from sketching, designing and making to styling, casting, modelling or photography. The aim was to create a place for free self-expressions outside of school and home, explains Alexander McQueen, while also demystifying the world of fashion to a new generation.

Schneidermann added: “To us, 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 sense of familiarity with creative skills and art in general through the workshops and the photography shoots.”

Image: Alexander McQueen; Sketchbook by Melody

The young people responded through sketches, research and casting with their families, writing, embroidery, photography and fittings conducted with the McQueen atelier. This culminated in a four-day location shoot around the hills and seaside in Ogmore, which is now the subject of a new documentary and book showcasing all the young peoples work. Highlights include a series of images featuring custom lilac dresses from the autumn/winter 2020 collection captured against the Welsh countryside and the beach.

Image: Alexander McQueen by Clémentine Schneidermann
Image: Alexander McQueen; Sketchbook by Melody

Alexander McQueen
Sarah Burton