legendary catwalk photographer chris moore wins the special recognition award at this year's British Fashion Awards

As the British Fashion Council announces that Chris Moore will be honoured with the Special Recognition Award at this year's BFAs for a career that's spanned six decades, we throwback to his i-Con interview from The Creative Issue, i-D No. 330, Spring...

by Anders Christian Madsen
28 November 2014, 10:20am

Chris Moore has shot the shows for over five decades, making him the champion of his craft. In every corner of fashion there is an icon: someone who's done it longer and better than anyone else. In the photographer's pit, that icon is Chris Moore. Since first shooting the shows in 1967, Moore hasn't missed a haute couture, ready-to-wear or menswear season in the four fashion capitals, and at 80, he still personally shoots forty percent of the 500 shows covered by his company Catwalking.com every season. He loved the grand productions of John Galliano, Lee McQueen, and Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, and these days you might find Moore moved by Hussein Chalayan or "the uncompromising aesthetic of Rei Kawakubo". Fresh off the autumn/winter 14 show circuit, and with more seasons behind him than any other catwalk photographer, there's no one better to talk shows and the future of fashion with, than the legendary Chris Moore.

What's life like in the photographer's pit?
It's like one big party where all your family members have been invited, but as with most families the politics are thick. It's important to always arrive upbeat and I try to be diplomatic to diffuse any tense situations. Singing is always a good technique. The farce of it makes people laugh and laughter can let out a little pressure at critical moments. In Milan I sing Volare, and in Paris I sing Bridget Bardot. It can be tempting to let it all out and scream and shout at someone who is pushing all your buttons, but we are all under a lot of pressure, we all deal with it in different ways and I'm too long in the tooth to wilfully burn down bridges.

What's the most memorable experience you've had working the shows?
Gaffa-taping myself to a pillar at a Jean Paul Gaultier show in 1995. No podium was provided for the photographers to work on and the catwalk was really high. We were all franticly running around trying to find somewhere to shoot without a nuisance pillar getting in the way. It suddenly came to me that the pillar had the best spot in the house and that's where I needed to be. There was a small ledge at the right height for me to stand on but there was no way I could perch up there for more than an hour or keep still long enough to work, so I got some of the other photographers to gaffa-tape me up there right on the front of pillar. I suppose I would still be there today if they had been less than charitable in helping me back down after.

How did digital cameras change your job?
Working primarily for newspapers, deadlines have always been a huge concern for me and consequently I was one of the first photographers to abandon film all together and embrace the emerging digital format. The turning point for me was arriving at the photo lab at 2am to find out why my Dior film was late. The lab owner was so overwhelmed with the quantity of film, he had parked much of it in buckets of water out back and there was no telling which bucket my film was in without looking through it all. It was a situation I could never repeat. Digital changed all that and with the new possibilities for delivering pictures over the telephone lines and then the internet, deadlines have been getting shorter ever since. On the whole the change has been for the better but one thing I do miss are the days when you could hand over your film to the lab for processing and simply go to dinner! Dinner before 11pm is a rare thing now and that's if dinner comes around at all.

With the continuing rise of digital, do you think the fashion show is still as relevant?
A fashion show is to the fashion designer as the private view is to the painter. It is the all-important connection with peers, critics and customers. A place to witness first hand the result of a creative process. The fashion show was originally about revealing a collection, but it is now so much more than that. It is an opportunity to entertain your most valued clients and showing off your celebrity endorsements, it is a meeting place for journalists, stylists, bloggers, gossips, hairdressers, and groupies. You name it: they're all there, inside and outside the venue. The digital can hint a little bit about all this and can of course show the clothes but the clothes are now only part of the story.

What do you think the fashion show does that digital can't do, and vice versa?
I see it more as an interdependency than a pitched struggle of one against the other. You might be able to reach more people with a digital cast, but you won't make anyone feel special by sending them a download link. As a player you can't feel special unless you were actually one of a tiny minority to be able to say that you were actually there. While watching a digital link you can't hear the gasps, smell the smoking gossip, or be seen in the front row. Fashion is all about yearning for the desirable, and it will always be those special people in the front row that tell the many what is and what will be desirable; Anna Wintour won't be able to feel how desirable your collection is through a plasma screen. In short, in order to digitally cast a show you still need a show, preferably one with the hype and Twitter buzz live from within, a living, breathing thing that continues on long after the music stops, after that the digital cast can project your event beyond the gaze of the special people. 



Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Raymond Chan

Chris Moore
fashion interviews
special recognition award