Burberry’s free exhibition of the AW17 collection showcased the skilled craftsmanship of fashion couture and the artistic inspiration of Henry Moore, says Ellie Hibberd.
Following their Autumn/Winter 2017-2018 show, Burberry opened up a coveted glimpse of fashion week to the masses in February. The British label is leading the way in a new era of fashion, as one of the first to introduce the new ‘see now, buy now’ business model in which collections are available to view and purchase as soon as they’ve made their runway debut, and has been the first house to combine their women and menswear collections into two annual shows.
For the past two seasons, the iconic British brand have opened up a new door within the new realm of fast fashion, a door open not only to the fashion elite or those with a spare £1500 to spend on a new dress, but to anyone in London with a free hour or two. In collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation, Burberry set up a week-long pop-up exhibition in Makers House, Soho showcasing all 78 looks from the Autumn/Winter collection, alongside around 40 sculptures by Henry Moore which provided the inspiration for the show.
In a world where fashion fans can watch live streams of runway shows, get a front row view through Snapchat, and examine each look in detail online within hours of the event, Burberry’s free exhibition is a welcome next step in the democratisation of fashion. Open to anyone and everyone with a free admission and walk-in policy, it offered the chance to get a closer look at the luxe collection and an insight into the high level of craftsmanship and hours of skilled artistry that go into each piece.
Getting up close to these carefully crafted silhouettes is like looking at a work of art and witnessing how each brushstroke comes together to make it a masterpiece. In pride of place at the exhibition were 78 unique, couture capes made for the runway show, ranging from military-style embroidery and thick, twisting rope work to glittering chainmail shawls and cloudlike, fluffy pompoms. If you’ve ever had a cynical thought about the extortionate pricing of designer fashion, these intricately worked pieces would surely change your mind, each of them clocking up to several thousand hours’ work by Burberry’s couturiers, and each with a unique inspiration and vision.
This, fashion cynics, is true art in its most tangible form, accentuated by Henry Moore’s famed sculptures peppered amongst the looks. When looking at each piece, you cannot even begin to imagine the artisanal skill required to flawlessly execute each stitch and every embellishment. And that was the beauty of the exhibition. Open to all, Makers House allowed you to go from viewing the fashion show on your tiny smartphone screen to appreciating it in its full glory, exactly how it’s meant to be seen: as close as you want to get, with a 360 view and only a few employees to deter you from the overwhelming desire to pull a heavily sequinned masterpiece off a mannequin and try it on for size.
Featured image: Wikipedia Commons