Meet Chris Moore, the Eyes of the Runway

The legendary catwalk photographer talks his new tome, his favorite designers, and the importance of a wooden box

To be a good runway photographer, one should have a decent sense of clothing, quick reflexes, and a wooden box.

“That’s always been a constant companion,” said Chris Moore, the veteran fashion show photographer whose work is featured in new book Catwalking: Photographs by Chris Moore, which features a foreword by John Galliano and text by Alexander Fury. For a man who has captured the evolution of the runway, who was there for John Galliano’s graduation debut, and who notably served as Alexander McQueen’s official show photographer, his humble box—a former home to a microscope upon which he stands or sits—is a valuable tool. “When I go into shows, people see that put in position and they know it’s my box,” he said of the piece that has traveled the world with him. “[It] is very important for capturing catwalk shows.”

If Moore says it’s important, then you’d better believe it’s the best way to get the shot. The man began his career more than 50 years ago, assisting the likes of Cecil Beaton and Henry Clarke in the studio before making the leap to runway shows. From intimate couture presentations to the large-scale spectacles of today, Moore has been the eyes of the industry.

Now, with the help of his business partner and wife, Maxine, Moore has pulled together images from his extensive archive to produce a book. Over the course of two years, the duo scanned and retouched images dating as far back as the mid-1960s. “I am really conscious that there are lots of lovely pictures that haven’t got in,” he said over the phone. “Hopefully I’ll be able to do another one and get them into that. It’s always very difficult to make a choice, so certain ones do get left out, which is a shame.” 

One image that made it to print and stands out is a heavy hitter of modern fashion history: Karl Lagerfeld’s first show for Chanel. “I’m very fond of [it] because it not only shows the model and the Palais, but it’s got lots of my photographer friends in the picture,” Moore said. “We tried to not just show the dresses, we wanted to show the ambiance of these shows, and how they went on.”

Of course, Moore isn’t stuck in the past—the ever-changing nature of the fashion industry means his eye is trained to what’s new and next. “There are some shows where I feel, this young talent is going to go far,” he mused, listing menswear designer Martine Rose as a standout. “Simone Rocha is another British designer who is doing wonderful work, and I feel really sure that she will go very far.” He flipped through the book, listing off current favorites as he came across pictures—Tom Ford, John Galliano’s Maison Margiela, and Thom Browne, whose show is featured on the cover.

Above all, what Moore’s archive and Catwalking illustrate is the importance of shows and presentations to fashion history, and the powerful effect they have on how we perceive collections. Clothes are static objects—they need a body to bring them to life. With the added theatricality of lights and music, the themes in a presentation are amplified, and an energy is created.

“When you do a show and the hair on the back of your neck stands up, you know something good [is] going to come of it,” he said. “You know there’s something special about the whole thing, and that’s what makes covering the shows exciting—you wait for something really good. It’s thrilling, really.”

Catwalking: Photographs by Chris Moore is available now from Laurence King

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