From Alexander McQueen's 'lunatic asylum' to Kenzo's dancing 1970s models, here's a tour round the catwalk shows that changed fashion - by the photographer who's been shooting them for over 50 years
If you want to get our Calvin Kleins in a twist, just ask us to choose the best catwalk shows ever. Starter for 10 – are you a fan of the epic worlds conjured up by Karl Lagerfeld for his Chanel shows during Paris Fashion Week? Do you still dream about the magic of fashion’s greatest showman, Alexander McQueen – and the time he made Kate Moss appear as a hologram (and the time he unleashed real live wolves on the Frow, and the time he put his models inside a glass box ‘lunatic asylum’, the time he got robots to spray-paint Shalom…we could go on – and on…)? Or are you more about, you know, the actual clothes, and trying to spot the future design stars who’ll be shaping our wardrobes in years to come? In which case, Christopher Kane’s neon-bandage-dress debut collection has to rank right at the top of your list.
Well, pity photographer Chris Moore. He’s been photographing catwalk shows literally since they were invented. He was the photographer who started the whole idea of ‘catwalk photography’. He’s never missed a season (that he can recall). And he’s been covering all four fashion capitals – New York, London, Milan and Paris – since each of them began holding a fashion week. Trying to choose images of the best catwalk shows ever and the iconic moments that changed fashion for his new book, Catwalking: Photographs by Chris Moore (published by Laurence King next week) was quite the epic task. He was faced with editing his archive of hundreds of thousands of pictures down to a select few – but the result is an incredible journey that traces the jaw-dropping evolution of the catwalk show through five decades.
Moore started out toting huge cameras and begging Paris couturiers to let him in to their tiny, silent salon shows (they didn’t – until Andre Courreges threw open the doors). Back then, designers considered photographers the enemy. Shows were for clients and selected editors only, with no pictures allowed to be shown anywhere. Fast-forward to 2017. Sometimes, it’s hard not to suspect designers of starting from their Instagram-moment finale and working backwards, to the clothes – so vital has imagery and catwalk photography become. These days, Moore shoots the ever-huger spectacles on digital, in prime position at the front of the catwalk.
He photographed the birth of ready-to-wear in 1970s Paris (hello, Kenzo), he’s seen supermodels come and go (that legendary picture of the original Freedom line-up of Christy, Cindy, Naomi and Linda in their coloured Versace dresses? it’s one of his). He photographed the start of Milan as a fashion force in the 1980s (you won’t believe what early Dolce & Gabbana shows looked like), and he has a record of every single significant designer debut from the last fifty years. From John Galliano’s graduate show – Moore didn’t even know which collection was his or how major it would become until people started asking him for the pictures – to the first Vetements shows in grungy basements a couple of years back.
For your delight and delectation, we interviewed the living legend about his memories of the best catwalk shows ever and his game-changing career at his North London home. Watch the video above to see and hear all about the most iconic catwalk shows of all time. Settle back and enjoy the ride…