It’s called Ffasiwn 

2015 - ongoing
Text by Kirsty Purnell on the occasion of the exhibition at the Martin Parr Foundation 2019

“Ha! You lot look like you’re off to a funeral!”
“It’s called fashion! Look it up.”

Documentary, performance, social commentary, landscape photography and, of course, fashion. This series explores all of these forms but belongs to none.
In the photographs exhibited, we see young people move in harmony with the seasons, adapting, embracing and thriving in them. The scenes they are pictured against, in contrast, are stagnant, tired and worn. The passage of time is central. Seasonal changes and celebrations are reflected in the colours of costumes but also in the landscapes. On one wall, you see the images taken in Spring and Summer, and on the other, they are from Autumn and Winter.

The show’s central image, the summer street party, encapsulates the spirit of this series - the carnivalesque summer street party contrasted with a deserted Merthyr Vale street.

Clémentine and Charlotte met in Valleys town, Abertillery in 2015. Realising their common interest, they began hosting fashion-themed workshops for young people in two youth groups. They’ve collaborated and worked with the same 
young people for the past three years. Drawing on their own industry experience, they have taught the young people skills such as sewing, customising clothes and styling. They helped put together the outfits in the photographs, which were taken by Clémentine.

But the workshops were about more than that. They were about introducing the next generation to the creative industries, developing their self-confidence and challenging stereotypes. Deprivation in the south Wales Valleys has been documented for decades. The media has reliably presented the nation with caricatures of unemployment, declining town centres and, more recently, sound bites for unsympathetic reports on Brexit-voting regions. The coverage has rarely sought to explore the complexities of de-industrialisation and what this means for people, families and communities.

Clémentine and Charlotte’s business here is not to deny the reality of social deprivation. Instead, they juxtapose this with the vivacity, promise and hope of youth. They elevate the young subjects with a colourful palette and by playing with fiction and humour - the resulting contract positing a challenge to preconceived ideas about the Valleys.

The images were made between 2015 and 2018 in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.

Contact us

︎   ︎

Ffasiwn Stiwdio is a community interest company registered in England and Wales

© 2021 Ffasiwn Stiwdio