How one Welsh town became the backdrop for a remarkable fashion shoot. Words by Paula Cocozza. Photographs by Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James
After their costume workshop at the Gellideg youth centre in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, some of the girls who had taken part braved the wind and the rain to parade the streets in their finery. It was soon after Halloween, November 2016. They were dressed in black, in extravagant hats, faces pale as the moon. Ice-cold curls, frozen by gel and the weather, snaked stiffly across their foreheads. A few boys skulked around on their bikes to watch the unlikely procession. When the girls walked past, the boys broke into derisive laughter. The girls stopped in their tracks. “It’s called fashion!” one shouted. “Look it up!”
Right then, the photographer Clémentine Schneidermann “realised there was something magical happening”. She had organised the girls’ costume workshop with Charlotte James, a creative director. The photographs the two women took of that seminal outing launched a collaboration lasting nearly three years, between Schneidermann, James and a group of children from the youth centre and the Coed Cae Interact club near Brynmawr. Now a selection of their photographs are to be exhibited in a collection entitled It’s Called Ffasiwn (Welsh for fashion), along with some of the costumes, at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol.
UK fashion industry bigger source of carbon emissions than aviation and shipping
A penny on every shirt, skirt and stocking could fund better recycling and repairing in the fashion industry, according to a parliamentary report that recommends new taxes to end the throwaway consumer culture.
The cross-party environmental audit committee also proposes tax incentives for companies that offer repair services for clothes, and urges schools to introduce darning and mending classes.
Fashion students are no longer courted for their creative talents. Now they fight for unpaid work placements
“I always planned to go to university to do photography,” says Ryan Saradjola, a London-based photographer. Despite considering himself not to be very academic, he persevered through college, building a portfolio that landed him a place at the prestigious London College of Fashion (LCF). But after a year at LCF, Saradjola opted out of higher education entirely. Offered the opportunity to work alongside the famous fashion photographer Rankin, he took the leap. “It was an amazing experience,” he says. “I learned so much from that year and a half. Working with his clients, seeing how he worked – the whole process was eye-opening.”
All too often, sustainability is treated as a one-off topic, rather than a practice to be embraced by all
When Amy McCranor got her first job in fashion, she didn’t like what she saw. During a trial period at an e-commerce fashion brand, she witnessed a rapid turnover of unhappy staff, garments sewn with competitors’ labels entered into the inventory, and stock priced at impossibly low figures. So exploitative were overseas manufacturing costs that anything priced over £5 brought in a comfortable profit for the company.
It all caused her to question whether she had a place in the fashion industry at all. “I think it’s wrong,” McCranor says. “It’s a minefield for fashion graduates because you just think, how can I do what I want without feeling like a hypocrite? And I really did feel like one being there.” McCranor left the brand and sought opportunities beyond fashion. “I’ve worked out what I stand for morally, ethically, creatively,” she says. “I can now take a stand early on in my career.”
A chance to work on a bigger scale is inspiring the fashion pack
Shag pile, floral or fringed … rugs and carpets come in a variety of designs. but if they are not what springs to mind when you imagine haute couture, then think again.
At the Marni autumn/winter show earlier this year guests were seated on piles of old carpets. For Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary spring/summer show, models walked down a catwalk made up of a patchwork of carpets. The floor was printed in the style of a patterned rug at Chloé, with one model wearing what looked like a rug fashioned into a miniskirt, while a carpet formed the logo-branded backdrop to last year’s Balenciaga’s autumn/winter show.
My friend and colleague Deirdre Murphy, who has died aged 42 after suffering from cancer, was the senior curator at Kensington Palace, where she worked for 15 years, and an internationally renowned expert on royal and court fashion.
Deirdre curated a number of high-profile exhibitions at Kensington, including the 10th anniversary exhibition for Diana, Princess of Wales in 2007 and, the following year, The Last Debutantes. After a sabbatical at the V&A, she returned to Kensington for the Palace for Everyone project, which opened in 2012.