Swirling robes, long silk gowns, flowing hair, jeweled tones, sparkling jewels, chiffon shawls and velvet capes... who doesn’t love Pre Raphaelite style? Romantic, rebellious, bold and exotic: yet possessing a strong sense of heritage, the bohemian Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic never goes out of fashion, so what better starting point for style inspiration this season.
The Pre-Raphaelites (Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, PRB) were a Victorian-era (1848 - late 19th Century) group of English artists which later grew to include poets and writers. This month, the Tate has an exhibition, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde, which celebrates exhibition the magic and vision of this movement. Led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) drew inspiration from the Renaissance, rebelling against the art establishment of the mid-nineteenth century.
The porcelain faced, dreamy eyed, golden haired beauties; draped in sumptuous fabrics, were the supermodels of their day and their beauty remains unmatched and inspiring. Today’s fashion and media still celebrates romantic traditional British English rose beauty - ivory skin, rosebud lips and cascading hair. Karen Elson, with her fiery tresses and penchant for Victoriana, often looks like Lady Lilith if she stepped out of the Rosetti painting. Lily Cole’s another doll featured flaxen haired beauty who could easily pass for Milais’ Ophelia, whilst Florence Welch’s strong eclectic bohemian style and Rosie Huntington Whiteley’s English beauty make them modern muses like Effie Gray or Jane Morris. The magic of the Pre-Raphaelite beauty is steadfast.
As the nights draw in and the winter looms what better time to start thinking about adding some magic to our wardrobes. There’s definitely a historical bohemian feel to this upcoming season with many collections and design elements reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelite’s bohemian aesthetic. For this Autumn/Winter 2012 designers delivered sumptous colour pallets that include some striking jewelled tones – Paul and Joe offered a particularly delicious assortment. Burgundy is the go to colour this season as seen at Elie Tahari – to name one of many. Luxurious fabrics were elegantly draped at Hermes, evoking the velvet gown on 'Fair Rosamund'. Brocade, lace and velvet are go to materials and made a number of appearances in collection, such as Junya Watanabe who really made the most of the luxurious velvet fabric using different colours and techniques. Folksy, paisley and floral patterns added a casual eclectic element, as seen at Hermes where there was a definite eastern reference in the fabrics and hemlines. The addition of lace heats things up a bit during the winter months – thanks Lanvin!
This season we also encounter striking nods to Baroque, ala Dolce and Gabbana and John Galliano – think dramatic, romantic, OTT splendour. Victoriana details are also prominent – Pucci’s dramatic ruffled shirts and statement jewellery should do the trick. Temperley’s collection’s full of inspiration - a bohemian mix of floating chiffon layers of silk, lace and velvet, with a folksy pattern mix that includes embroidery and darker, bolder florals. Temperley’s references to the Pre-Raphaelites is striking, from the swathes of velvet, floaty heavily embroidered silk dresses, detailed embroidery and all topped off with jewels and sequins sparkling like light on water. The use of natural imagery given a darker edge also bloomed at McQueen and Dolce and Gabbana with bold florals that are less feminine and more dramatic on dark sumptuous fabrics, with lace overlays and embossing. Like the paintings there’s also a gothic edge with Gucci’s capes and Rocha’s dark lace - this is dark winter romance. The high street also has some finds with some great prints at Miss Selfridge and River Island nailing ethereal gothic glamour
Mix up those fabrics, scour flee markets, car-boots and dig out some sartorial magic. Why not have fun and be rebellious this winter. Now is a time for experimentation.Whether you pick up some statement earrings, drape yourself in silk, languish in lace or make like a woodland nymph by taking that long dress into winter with some extra layers of brocade, lace, silk…Winter is a time of darkness and that spells romance, exuberance and luxury – why not dress accordingly.