To the liberal of Henry Moore’s monumental bronze sculpture Mother and Youngster was Penelope Cruz; to the right was Tinie Tempah. Anna Wintour was positioned across the runway from Draped Reclining Mother and Toddler. Welcome to the new age of highbrow ambition at London fashion week.
“In the android figure one can express more completely one’s feelings about the set than in any other way.” Moore was talking about sculpture, but Christopher Bailey of Burberry talks in correspond to terms about fashion.
The two came together at a Burberry affectation staged in collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation, which duplicated as the opening for Henry Moore: Inspiration and Process, a free week-long exhibit in Soho, central London, of 40 Moore sculptures, staggering bronzes, drawings and maquettes.
On the catwalk, the conversation between Moore and Burberry came to dazzle with clothes that “changed the shape of the body into something more unconventional”, hinted Bailey after the show. “We used fabrics to sculpt the heart, and to change proportions.”
Trenchcoats lost their casual floppiness in mannered double-faced wool, with their wide belts stitched into emplacement. Moore’s passion for found objects, represented in the exhibition with an atmospheric reconstruction of his studio, was reproduced in a fantastical shoulder-cape made from an antique chandelier. Lay into blouses were inspired by the delicacy of the maquettes Moore make a run for it out of sticks and straw.
The unprettiness of Moore’s view of the female essentials, very much at odds with mainstream fashion world-view, did not faze Bailey. “I loved using clothes to change the silhouette of the body into something unconventional,” he said after the pretentiousness.
“I made this collection with passion and with unity. I grew up in Yorkshire with the sculpture park, and Moore is someone I arrange loved all my conscious life. The way the world is at the moment, it feels like a adequate time to do something you truly believe in.”
Burberry’s collaboration with the Henry Moore Rationale can be seen from various perspectives. Its status as the hot-ticket centrepiece of London trend week is a snapshot of Bailey’s formidable reimagining of the label, which had catch oned alarmingly downmarket, into a prestige brand that bulges for Britain as a creative force – and therefore gets to stand alongside that of a pre-eminent artist.
The collaboration also represents a new way of belief about the concept of fashion week, which is currently desperately seeking a new raison d’être. Catwalk displays needs to work harder to justify a non-virtual existence, and a bust exhibit gives an experience that can’t be replicated online.
Lastly, it proposes an engrossing new business model for brand Britain, in which – to put it bluntly – make bankrolls culture in exchange for gravitas.