An intimate study of a catwalk phenomenon

The fashion catwalk, a world of exclusivity and a somewhat far cry from the ordinary you and I, is unveiled in the latest exhibition from London’s Fashion and Textile Museum. ‘Catwalk to Cover’ presents a captivating collection of insider photography and designer garments, illustrating the transition from 19th century Paris fashion parades into front row celebrity catwalk culture.

Take a step inside and you are greeted by the famous faces on the front row. Back-lit portraits of celebrities and editors taken by Kirstin Sinclair (curator of the exhibition) cause a sea of reflections across the ground floor, imitating their power and influence as ambassadors for designer collections.

Nearby, a collection of translucent digital images of iconic fashion shows and models are suspended from the twinkling ceiling. Looking through these will take you from show to show, backstage to front row seat faster than any catwalk outfit change.

Walking through an open seam of draped white chiffon brings you to a stage of fully clad mannequins stolen from the catwalk. White and turquoise walls add a cool vibe to an otherwise hectic business. Backstage photographs shot by top talents Chris Moore, Matthew Lever and Philip Meech surround the stage, capturing last minute touches which can make or break a look.

On the upper level Alison McCann, a curator at the museum, describes how, “This is a niche way of looking at the catwalk. We’ve expanded from the 1970s where the only focus was the garment on the runway.” Behind her, a range of backstage beauty shots, highlighting the makeup trends taking homage in magazine beauty pages. Prada’s interesting post production outlets and street style photography brings an end to the tour.

The exhibition is an exciting and flattering celebration of the fashion catwalk industry. It brings aspects of the past together with the present using insightful photography dating back to the 1990s to create an innovative and exclusive must-see show.

Getting there: Fashion and Textiles Museum; nearest tube: London Bridge. Open Tue-Sat 11am-6pm until 25th Feb 2012. Tel: 020 7407 8664; www.ftmlondon.org

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