The large town of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales is the unlikely subject of Helmut Lang’s new advertising campaign. For autumn/winter 2018, the brand decided that it would show off its new collection in the South Wales Valleys, choosing some of the town’s most interesting residents to model the clothes – and the results are glorious. From 86-year-old Dilys to 66-year-old Puleng, the campaign tells their stories against the Welsh backdrop.
Captured by photographer Alexandra Leese, the campaign was cast and styled by Charlotte James, who has a strong connection to the area. “The brand came to me because of the fashion shoots I have been doing in the community since 2014,” James told ITV. “I like the characters in Merthyr. It's where I'm from. I feel I have a connection.” James’s own grandmother is one of the women featured. She is 86-year-old Margaret, a retired funeral director, who says, “I love Wales. I am Wales through and through.”
The other women include 66-year-old Puleng, who tells us all the love story of her life: “We found each other again. You know it was meant to be. For me that’s what love is about.”
Then there’s Dilys, who, at 86, also happens to hold the record for the world’s oldest female skydiver. “I’ve got to have a passion until the day I die,” she says. “Let me tell you about skydiving. It’s the ultimate freedom… you launch yourself into the air and you’re flying. And the next moment you’re floating. You’re just floating.”
The campaign features both photographs and videos, most of which have been released on Instagram. It also includes some of the best advice we’ll surely receive in 2018. It comes from Dilys, who states: “The bigger the pile of shit, the bigger the jewel. Find the jewel.”