Burberry’s Capes Reimagined at Masterpiece London

This summer I was given the chance to visit Masterpiece London. Upon arrival, I was more than excited to see a fashion exhibit there amongst the prestigious art and antiques that are usually on display.

The exhibition featured a selection of limited edition handmade capes from Burberry’s Capes Reimagined show and February 2017 catwalk, combined and backdropped with black and white photography of Henry Moore sculptures. The sculptures were inspiration for the large and sculptural forms of the Burberry capes. The shadows cast on the floor by the capes were art in themselves, and also reminded me of shapes found in Moore’s sculptures.

Drawing on Moore’s use of found objects, the capes were made out of feathers, shells, pearls, crystals, lace, and wood. The capes were magical – my two favourites were one which had shells all over, and another with white feathers and a collar made out of tiny crystals. From afar the collar looked like it was made out of miniature feathers, but like all the capes in the exhibit, it was only when you got closer that you realised there was something more complex to them than their shapes or shadows.

The exhibition was displayed in a small section at the end of the Masterpiece London space. There were no walls, but instead the photographs acted as architectural wall panels which you had to walk through in order to get access to the spectacular capes in the centre. There were also delicate white veils dividing the space, which made the capes seem even more powerful in contrast.

Capes are a symbol of protection. These capes were bold just like Moore’s sculptures, and they seemed to be making a powerful statement. In this exhibit Moore’s sculptures were only nostalgic black and white photographic reproductions, and the real sculptures on display were the Burberry capes. Not exactly wearable in our modern day to day life, these capes seemed to be stating that they are sculpture, they are art. More importantly, this exhibit reinforced the fact that fashion deserves to be seen as an art. In reimagining their capes, Burberry has helped those who haven’t already to reimagine what constitutes art.

By Grace Lee

All photos by the author.