16 July 2018

Catwalking Exhibition - The Bowes Museum

Thankfully for North East fashion fans, The Bowes Museum keeps on delivering top class exhibitions  so we don't always have to hotfoot it to London. Chris Moore has had an awe-inspiring career in fashion photography, spanning six decades from the origins of the modern day catwalk in the 50s to present day. His Catwalking exhibition pulls together some of the most iconic images and outfits in fashion history.

An unforgettable Comme des Garçons welcome! 
The Newcastle born photographer is much admired and well-known in the fashion industry, so sourcing outfits from top designers to compliment the photographic exhibition wasn't that difficult. Moore became a photographer's assistant at Vogue in 1954 (aged 20) and has witnessed firsthand in his 83 years how the industry has evolved over the decades. He's seen the comings and goings of designers at all of the top fashion houses and adapted to the digitalisation of fashion photography. He's been tied to a pillar with gaffer tape at a Jean Paul Gaultier show to get the perfect shot, had his peers cover his work after he hit his head bouncing down a few flights of stairs and been the patriarch of the photographers pit for sixty years.  

Christopher Kane dresses
The exhibition covers three galleries, the central entrance gallery being Gallery 1, which is comprised of catwalk outfits with their accompanying images. You'll find the majority of the catwalk images and more outfits in Gallery 2 on the right, and more outfits and photography equipment and memorabilia from Chris's career in Gallery 3 on the left.  Visitors are fittingly welcomed by a vivid red backdrop and a Comme des Garcons scarlet cotton, velvet and PVC dress from SS 2017 which makes a big first impression. Not far away is another stunning salmon pink CdG ruffled leather and PVC ensemble (both lent from Dover Street Market). In Gallery 1 you'll also find five outfits by Louis Vuitton (I remember being obsessed with the household items print from 2015), Christopher Kane, Vetements, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino, Vivienne Westwood, an amazing Gareth Pugh futuristic dress and a gorgeous Chanel evening dress (which could do with being better lit). 

(From top left - Bath dress by Chloe, Vivienne Westwood suit, the outfits in Gallery 2, and Chris Moore's images)
Gallery 2 displays Chris Moore's iconic images by decade (similar to the recent Vogue 100 exhibition) which works well, with outfits presented on a catwalk (created by artist Steve Messam) in the middle of the room. Here you'll find a wonderful surrealist Bath Dress by Chloe (designed by Karl Lagerfeld) complete with taps on the back made from embroidered pearls and sequins, a Marilyn Monroe dress from the Versace Tribute Collection (SS 2018), the famous Bubble Dress by Hussein Chalayan, a stunning coat and skirt from the YSL Opera Ballet Russes Collection (1976) alongside more outfits by Issey Miyake, Giles, Prada and Chanel. 

Chris's photography in a fashion magazine and show passes
His photographic archive charts document the rise of the supermodel in the 80s, the rebirth of Haute Couture and the impact that new designers had on fashion. I particularly enjoyed images of Yves Saint Laurent after one of his shows, images from John Galliano shows and some early Kate Moss shots. The images are arranged by decade and there's also a timeline explaining more about fashion history. I wished there had been some thumping catwalk music from famous shows (it seemed strange to look at everything in silence) but maybe that's not to everyone's taste. 

(From top left - negatives and images, Moore's collection of cameras, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dresses and Vivienne Westwood's catwalk show)
Gallery 3 houses some of the most inspiring outfits in the exhibition by Alexander McQueen and offers a visual history of Chris's career via his old cameras (it's hard to believe the difference between the 60s Rolliflex and modern day cameras) and press passes from shows gone by. Here you'll find the iconic Armadillo ankle boots as worn by Lady Gaga from McQueen's Plato's Atlantis collection, a stunning fishtail coat featuring hand painted gold goose feathers and two dressed by Sarah Burton from AW 2013, amongst other classic McQueen pieces. There's also some Yves Saint Lauren Rive Gauche pieces and some McQueen accessories by Shaun Leane. I enjoyed spending some time watching a Vivienne Westwood catwalk show at the far end of the gallery, which inspired me to watch more shows when I got home. 

The iconic Armadillo boots and accessories by McQueen
This is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with iconic outfits and delve deeper into fashion history. Sometimes the outfits overshadow the images, but it's difficult to imagine the exhibition without the fascinating subject matter which was the focus of Moore's illustrious career. The exhibition book looks like it would be worthy of the most stylish coffee table.

Catwalking: Fashion Through The Lens Of Chris Moore is on display at Bowes Museum until 6th January 2019.


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