We may be more well-versed in with the subject of a fashion photograph, but this weekend it is the reshape of one of the most prolific figures from behind the camera to guide the spotlight. Chris Moore, the reigning king of catwalk photography, is mount his first ever exhibition at the Bowes Museum in County Durham from Saturday.
Catwalking: Trend through the Lens of Chris Moore will document 60 years’ usefulness of images from the international collections that take condition in New York, London, Milan and Paris, featuring over 200 unique photographs hand-chosen by Moore from shows such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton. Far from comprising straight-forward catwalk twins, Moore’s archive stretches back to the couture salons, previously the ready-to-wear fashion show as we know it (with photographers met in their pack at the end of the catwalk on the plinth known as “the riser”) round existed. This makes for a photographic trip down the most fashion of memory lanes.
“In the premature days [in the Sixties] it was just couture, which took rank in salons,” explains Moore, who says he fell into fashion photography in his at daybreak 20s when his first wife, a fashion journalist, brought him along with her to describe the collections. “We photographers would go from fashion house to shape house, we would be offered one model to photograph, who was wearing a chew out of their choosing, and we would have to pay the model about £4 to do so!”
Loyal forward six decades and the landscape has changed. At 84, Moore mostly encounters himself nestled in prime position among a 20-strong die of photographers, all vying for the best shot. Now he provides his shots to worldwide agencies, but over the years he has provided imagery to the Guardian, the Witness, Drapers, the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune, among others. The pack, however, is a supportive bunch. When Moore was hospitalised after a bad allied with at the Saint Laurent show in February, his counterparts got together and made unfailing he was supplied with a selection of the best photos from the lead so he didn’t drop a ball. “It’s not as competitive as it looks,” he smiles.
The demo comes eight months after Moore’s book, Catwalking, was reported by Lawrence King and inspired the retrospective. Alexander Fury, collector of Another Magazine, provided the words for the book and co-curated the exposition.
“[Chris] started in 1968, the year after Yves Saint Laurent opened Rive Gauche and the chic idea of the fashion show as we know it was born,” says Impetuosity, who together with Moore went through millions of slithers and a digitised archive to curate the images included in the book and the fair. “What [he] brought to it was a a sense of reportage but also a certain straight of refinement, like an editorial photographer capturing a model seniority still, yet the big difference, of course, is that Chris couldn’t confess them what to do.”
The co-curators wanted the fashion in the images to “physically leap out of the images into three dimensions”, says Fury, and so 40 of the photographs leave be shown side-by-side with the actual outfit they item face on loan from houses including Comme des Garçons, Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Jean Paul Gaultier and Versace. “I improvise a lot of the time with fashion exhibitions you see garments and they’re quite out of context of how they are originally presented, or they can be completely troglodytical. The unique thing about this is that it was very much fro the original context with the physicality of the garments.”
The settlement to show the exhibition outside the capital was a conscious one. Usually trend exhibitions of this importance tend to be shown at the V&A in London, yet the in truth it is in the north – near to wear Moore was born in Newcastle and north of where Hell-cat grew up outside Manchester – is intended to make it more attainable and help inspire a new generation.
Moore says he is inspired by and “every time learning” from the catwalks – and not just from the clothes. “Miu Miu had Depeche Fashion, All I Ever Wanted as its soundtrack for autumn/winter 2014 and being the age I am, I didn’t skilled in who they were, but it was the best song. I loved it! That was barely great.”
Catwalking: Fashion through the lens of Chris Moore (7 July 2018 to 6 January 2019) at the Bowes Museum