Behind The Scenes || ZERO AW16

Organising the look book for my debut collection was one of the biggest challenges I've faced so far. However, I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan James of Pinegate Photographics. His studios happened to be based moments from the atelier. I discovered his flawless work with an exciting range of depth and subjects, though he confessed fashion photography had not made it's way into his portfolio, and so from this, a collaboration developed.

 

Up until this point I hadn’t really had anyone besides friends and family see the jumpers, so you can never be wholly sure their praise is genuine or just words of encouragement over an aesthetic they don’t quite understand. However Jonathan reassured me over the craftsmanship of the jersey knit and elevated design. With kind words passed between us and a project in the pipeline the next step was a test shoot.

This is where it gets embarrassing.

Without having secured a model at this stage I had no one to wear my creations. It was essential Jonathan photographed the garments before the shoot – much like toiling a design before creating the final piece is for myself. He needed to know what lighting worked best, how to really capture the fabric manipulation and most importantly how it moved on a real life form. The only cringeworthy option that remained was for myself to ‘model’ (and I use that term very loosely).

 

There are many photos locked away in the depths of my laptop storage of me leaping mid-air and flicking my hair about in a gangly fashion, perhaps I’ll be brave enough to show you one day so we can all laugh at what a lanky Bambi I seem. For now, I thought I would include one I can bare as socially acceptable.

Once I got over the awkwardness, it was great to see the collection photographed for the first time. I fell in love with the design all over again and for me it confirmed the direction in which I was taking Xandra Jane.

In terms of a male model (this is an androgynous collection after all) I need look no further than my phone contacts, and scroll until I found Callum. Not only one of my oldest friends but a talented hair stylist working for a prestigious salon in Cowbridge. Playing the ‘mate’ card and tapping into his love of fashion, he not only agreed to be my David Gandy, but soon became my right hand man helping me scout locations.

 

Hopping into Callum’s car one evening, we went on a South Wales road trip, exploring the land and finding abandoned, industrial locations that were supplied through Google searches and photographers forums.

I wanted somewhere concrete to oppose the natural and sustainable mood of my collection, to highlight the rebellion against fast fashion that was damaging to our environment – so what better to complement a luxury clothing line than a littered, greyscale concrete background. Unfortunately most derelict locations came complete with the cliché graffiti spat across the walls.

From a Cardiff based photographer to Welsh models, it was important to create a network of creatives on my doorstep who’s talents could be used to their full potential and really support the message of my brand, to reconnect.

 

I approached a beauty school and offered a student the chance to work on the project, my intern attended a fashion course round the corner from the atelier and helped on the day, Callum even extended the opportunity to another of his skilled colleagues from the salon and the gorgeous female model Zade, otherwise a fantastic actress, I found through a slightly creepy instagram stalk, and felt she matched Callum so well, I just had to get her involved.

And there we have it, in the middle of August on a Sunday evening, myself and my team of Wales based creatives gathered in a littered industrial estate based in Barry and shot my debut capsule collection in what I have to say, was one of the most laid back shoots I’ve ever experienced. The models changed behind a makeshift shield of clothing rails and sheets of fabric, the hair stylists and make up artist darted in between outfit swaps and I finally saw my work from the last six months come alive.

I couldn’t have asked for a more generous, professional and enthusiastic team, without each and every one I would not have reached this milestone in the development of Xandra Jane. I shall leave you with some unseen photos from the day, and I’d like to leave on this note before I continue the cycle again for SS17:

For the months of unglamorous, emotional and at times impossible hard work that is involved in delivering these creations to the customer, it’s moments like this when people come together in support and celebration that really make everything worthwhile. Thank you to everyone, including you.

I have also been shortlisted as a finalist in the Sustain Wales Awards 2016 for Sustainability Champion, 75% of the verdict is down to the public vote so please show your continued support to cast yours at http://www.cynnalcymru.com/online-vote/