When, last autumn, the Henry Moore Archive team was approached by fashion house Alexander McQueen with a query about licensing a Moore artwork on a garment for a forthcoming menswear line, we were delighted.

Though the Archive had previously worked with fashion houses Paul Smith and Burberry to produce a range of clothing and accessories, we licensed the use of multiple Moore artworks which were turned into pattern repeats, forming new textiles, and incorporating existing design themes from the artist’s sketchbooks. In contrast, the Alexander McQueen studio wanted to focus their designs on one Moore work. We were a little surprised with this proposal -  just how would the figurative drawing transfer to a textile garment?

Intrigued by this question, we were pleased to see that the McQueen designs really brought a new understanding to Moore’s 1928 drawing Three-Quarter Figure. By reproducing the drawing life-sized, across the matching apparel, the wearer would inhabit the artwork in its entirety; the figure would be brought to life.

Photo: Ethan James Green

That it should be this particular drawing selected by Alexander McQueen’s Creative Director, Sarah Burton, and her team was crucial to the Henry Moore Foundation agreeing to license the work. Moore’s Three-Quarter Figure is a visceral drawing, with its blood-like reds and somewhat sinister, corporeal lines undulating over the torso. It is one of the first in which the sculptor considers an idea which would become one of his most recognizable sculptural themes. In the 2017 catalogue to accompany the exhibition Becoming Henry Moore, Head of Exhibitions and Collections Sebastiano Barrassi writes of the work:

“Three-Quarter Figure demonstrates Moore’s early investigations into the relationship between internal and external forms and the idea of a rigid outer shell protecting a softer core, which he elaborated first in the Helmet Head series and then the Figure in a Shelter works either side of the Second World War.”

Having agreed upon the conditions of the licence, the Archive team colour checked the layouts and signed off on the coordinated designs for a shirt, trousers and matching jacket to be made in silk poplin and wool silk respectively.

The Henry Moore Archive is pleased to add these garments to our growing collection of Moore inspired clothes and textiles held at Perry Green. This collaboration has provided another opportunity to explore the draftsmanship entailed within Moore’s sketches for sculpture.

*FACTOID: Contrary to popular opinion, Henry Moore was never knighted, but was bestowed the Order of Merit (OM) in August 1963 and Order of the Companion of Honour (CH) in June 1955.