The profile of catwalk photographers has been heightened in the media age – but none more so than industry doyen Chris Moore, who has been snapping the runway for six decades and continues to work at the age of 84. Moore has an unerring talent for pressing the shutter button at exactly the right moment, but is also a photographer with incredible foresight – he embraced the information age as early as 1999 with his archive Catwalking.com, which has since become an industry resource for catwalk images, both past and present. Now this inspiring record of fashion moments will be showcased in Catwalking: Fashion through the Lens of Chris Moore, an exhibition that opens its doors on Saturday July 7 and runs through to Sunday January 6 at the Bowes Museum in County Durham.
Moore divides his time between London and his native Northumberland, and the idea for the show arose out of a serendipitous visit to Northumbria University following the publication of his book Catwalking. “I mentioned to one of the lecturers that I would love to give the public a chance to see the pictures, and she turned out to be a colleague of a curator at the Bowes Museum, who made it happen.”
The late-19th-century museum in Barnard Castle, built by philanthropists John and Joséphine Bowes, who amassed 15,000 pieces of fine and decorative art, is an impressive location for the showcase. In recent years, it has staged high-quality fashion exhibitions featuring Yves Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood and milliner Stephen Jones. This will be the first time a photographer has been centre stage, and the space has been imaginatively designed to include a catwalk crafted from paper tubes by local installation artist Steve Messam. It creates a platform for a series of fashion pieces, representing every decade since the 1960s, that will be surrounded by Moore’s original shots of the collections worn on the runway. In the other spaces, the displays include designs by Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen – Moore was the house photographer for both brands – and there are some 40 outfits and more than 240 photographs to peruse.
Moore has also created a collection of seven limited edition prints of iconic images (£325) – only three of each has been produced. “I wanted to represent different decades, but also to make images that people would want to live with,” he says. “So, I’ve produced several black and white pictures too.” There are also colour images, capturing moments in time from 1974 Issey Miyake through to 1984 Dior haute couture to 1999 McQueen. Copies of Catwalking (£44) and postcards with Moore prints (£10) can also be snapped up. For anyone interested in fashion’s evolution over the past 65 years, this show is the ticket: Moore was involved in an accident while shooting the Paris shows earlier this year and has decided to reduce the time he spends on his precarious runway-side pitch – though his team of young aides will ensure the Catwalking show goes on unabated.