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Alexander McQueen returns to its roots, educating East London teens

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The fashion house has partnered with a Tower Hamlets charity to support the aspirations of young creatives

Of Lee Alexander McQueen’s legacy, which comprises blockbuster runways, pop-cultural touchstones, and a museum’s worth of renegade fashions, it’s perhaps the designer’s philanthropic ventures which are his most enduring – on his death in 2010, McQueen left the vast majority of his estate to the Sarabande Foundation, which he had set up three years prior to support emerging designers with scholarships and studio space.

Now helmed by Sarah Burton, McQueen’s altruistic arm is taking another pump, having partnered with community youth arts organisation A Team Arts Education throughout the pandemic on a series of creative workshops. While the label’s charitable programmes tend to connect with universities and colleges (see its expansive fabric donation scheme), this new initiative broadens the brand’s outreach to young teens with free, art-led school holiday and Saturday programmes. Based in Tower Hamlets – one of London’s most deprived boroughs – it’s about providing an arts education where schools and local authorities may no longer have the budget. 

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Over the coming year, Alexander McQueen will provide financial sustenance to A Team Arts Education and build on its existing workshop offering, enlisting its own design, textile, and embroidery experts to lead classes as part of the organisation’s art and design pathways. “It feels especially important for us to be able to take part in supporting young people from  the East End of London, where Lee Alexander McQueen grew up. At this house we all know that talent comes from everywhere, irrespective of background,” Burton says. 

It’s a sentiment shared by Sarbjit Natt, the director of A Team Arts Education, who adds: “working with Alexander McQueen will provide inspiration, hope, and opportunities to an area that has established links to the fashion and textiles industries that are now hidden through layers of history and a changing urban landscape. The collaboration will  help the arts to flourish in a positive way for young people and the wider community of East London.”

Take a look through the gallery below and revisit the SS22 McQueen show in the one above.