During the recent London Fashion Week in the end of February, I have had a chance to visit Burberry Makers House , where the showcase of the inspiration, the process and design references behind the brand’s second see-now-buy-now collection are exposed. Makers House was opened as a fashion exhibition, offering the public the chance to celebrate the new runway collection freshly after the show, alongside the work of Henry Moore, the iconic artist that inspired it.
After passing is a big screen of the runway video at the main entrance, I entered the dim-light pavement where Cape Reimagined, the collection of couture cape pieces, are installed. Hanging beautifully, materials reflecting with the studio light, each cape has its own personality that shines and penetrates into my heart. On the floor under each, there lies a white text explaining the name, materials, process, from where and whom they are made, and for how long it takes to be made. They are all very mind-blowing that I hardly remember what was the last thing I had seen to be this beautiful.
I also really like the inspiration. They re-imagined the cape as Burberry cape acts as a symbol of protection since the 1880s. So, by referencing the spirit of the Burberry archive, the cape finds a new expression, using unique constructions and the atelier’s incredible craftsmanship. Inspired by the scale and form of Henry Moore’s elemental sculptures, each of these 78 limited-edition couture capes is handmade and available to special order. They are more like collector’s art pieces rather than fashion, and they represent the very essence of Burberry.
Upon entering the next space, from dark and low ceiling, towards the high loft with natural light, there is another half of the capes shown. I couldn’t believe how could they manage this the amount of work and time put into creating this whole 78 pieces in few months. The details of the pieces in this space are even more intricate – the crystal plated cape that might use 30 women to finish in a month, and all the special British and French techniques that put me into the understanding of what real couture is. This kind of work, even though I am not a fan of couture, feeds the whole belief in how good can fashion be once again. You might understand what I mean strolling through these pictures, and don’t forget to take time looking into the details and how they made it.
I am impressed also by the variety of choice of materials showcasing here. They are so diverse and it must not be easy at all to generate and think of 78 shapes and techniques with every single piece so unique and different. They don’t only use luxurious materials but also cheap and ubiquitous ones. From the hard, sculptural birch wood, raw shells and crisp leather to the soft cocooning cotton and wool that seems like hugging the body. The highest impression is how the team behind this can master so many different materials and manage to show them at their best forms, no matter what the materials are. This is so important to designs nowadays in my thoughts as we are not always lucky enough to buy the expensive or high-quality materials all the time. What you do with it- is what matters – and sometimes it could be so simple and yet so beautiful like the birchwood panel in the picture below.
Among all the body pieces, Henry Moore artworks are exhibited side by side, empowering both the garments and the viewer. Its monumental size, strange yet elegant shapes, really evokes the special mood of the whole venue. As Moore’s legacy and vision of defining the body has shaped and inspired the modern British arts and culture significantly, now the artist himself and his artworks are the core inspiration that suggests the development and emphasis in scale and proportions, texture, and shapes of the collection. Christopher Bailey, Burberry creative director, describes that he is specially fascinated by the contradicting qualities underlying his works.
“They manage also to be human, soft, approachable. I’ve always found them very moving, I think perhaps because they manage to be so monumental and yet so personal, so public and yet so private at the same time,…. between power and gentleness, heaviness and lightness, familiarity and abstraction. Between the hardness of his materials and the fluidity and softness of his forms.”
“At Burberry we are always fascinated by the making process, where it is hidden and where it is revealed. Images of Moore in his studio – the stripes of his apron, the tools of his trade, the artist at work – ended up feeding into the collection itself.”
I really want to say thank you to Burberry to create this exhibition. It is one of the best fashion exhibition I have seen in many many years. And I love that now there is a rise of inclusivity in fashion to invite the public to see and experience the whole idea in physical space. Marketing or not, I think it is a very clever idea also to spread the words as it is now all over social media. Very soon, we will see the conventional runway that builds a close wall between the gatekeepers and the people be replaced by visionary showcases like this – and it is only for the daring creatives that are good enough to open the boundaries, and not afraid of being too mass or being copied. Cause the best things, and their spirits, are always impossible to replicate. Hope you guys enjoy strolling in this – even though just a capture of memories – as much as me.
From London With love,