The influence of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings on fashion

Flaming June, Frederick Lord Leighton

I have been revisiting 19th century British paintings since I read about Museo Thyssen’s latest exhibition, Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting. The collection examines the chronological period from 1860 with the dissolution of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to the World War I and includes pieces by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Frederick Leighton, Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Albert J. Moore and John William Waterhouse. It will be open to the public until October 5th.

The Pre-Raphaelite movement was born in 1848 when seven artists (William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner) based in London reunited to create a secret society that would offer its on view on painting as opposed to the contemporary academic standards. As Jennifer Meagher from the MET Museum points out, “the works of the Pre-Raphaelites met with critical opposition to their pietism, archaizing compositions, intensely sharp focus—which, with an absence of shadows, flattened the depicted forms—and the stark coloration they achieved by painting on a wet white ground”. They were inspired by the uncomplicateed depiction of nature present in pre-Renassaince Italian painting.

The group left place for the birth of the Aestethic Movement, inspired by the Greco-Roman classical culture and the stories of King Arthur. Some of the Pre-Raphaelite artists evolved towards this path too, such as Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Their values shifted to the portrayal of beauty for its own sake. This is the period showcased in the Thyssen exhibition: “All these artists shared a celebration of female beauty, depicting it according to classical canons. Women became the preeminent figures in these paintings. Depicted as contemplative, amorous, day‐dreaming, bountiful, lascivious or wicked, they are transformed into heroines of antiquity or the Middle Ages. This cult of the woman moved towards the dreamlike nature and magic of the Symbolist movement that was currently emerging in Europe. Natural settings or grandiose palaces became the backdrops for scenes that largely evoke imaginary settings”, explains Thyssen Museum.

Their influence in fashion is remarkable. Valentino chose the Pre-Raphaelite theme as one of their main inspirations for the latest Haute Couture show presented this week. Oscar de la Renta has used Pre-Raphaelite references several times, and Alexander McQueen used to introduce subtle touches of this meaningful period. There is no season in which a hairstylist doesn’t bring the 19th beauty back with a cascade of red hair. There are endless editorials featuring redhead models surrounded by nature, with languid poses and semi-absent attitude. Karen Elson, Lily Cole, Christina Hendricks, young Kate Winslet, Florence Welch and Jessica Chastain are today’s Pre-Raphaelite reincarnates.

Ophelia, John Everett Millais

Ophelia, John William Waterhouse

Lady Godiva, John Collier

20130626191403!John_William_Waterhouse_The_Lady_of_ShalottThe Lady of Shallott, John William Waterhouse

Psyche opening the golden box, John William Waterhouse

The soul of the rose, John William Waterhouse

Art Nouveau Pre-Raphaelite 2Art Nouveau Pre-Raphaelite 1
Graphics by Bob Sparks

Influence in fashion and pop culture
Jessica Chastain in Vogue US by Annie Leibovitz. Recreation of Leighton’s painting. You can see the full editorial here.

Florence Welch

Keira Knightley in Atonement

Kate Winslet

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Karen Elson

Lily Cole by Miles Aldridge

Karen Elson

Oscar de la Renta

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Tim Walker

Valentino Haute Couture F/W 2014 – © InDigital/

Selection of works in Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Madrid
Waterhouse_bolaTadema_miradaTadema_rosas Wontner_Valeria

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Where to eat in Madrid


Those we live in Madrid don’t appreciate enough how beautiful this city is. It’s nice to forget it’s our city and see it through the eyes of a tourist. Enjoy the little balconies with flowers, wonder about who lives in those attics next to el Retiro park or visit el Prado museum for a whole day.

In case you’re travelling to Madrid this summer, or you live here and need to know new places to visit, I highly recommend Madrid Confidential’s website and guide. Don’t miss their newsletters either, all of the spots they suggest are extremely cool and special. I’ve selected some of the best restaurants featured in the guide just for you:

Cafetería HD (Guzmán el Bueno, 67): It used to be the typical neighbourhood restaurant but they’ve renovated it, keeping that 70′s touch (the only thing missing is the duralex dishes and glasses). Their burgers are amazing.

Inari (General Pardiñas, 33): I discovered this Japanese restaurant a few days ago. You have to try the butter fish maki with truffle oil, and the eel maki.

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Arquibar La Traviesa de Conde Duque (Travesía de Conde Duque, 5): A perfect place to have a tea in the evening.

Le Patron (Barco, 27): Diana Fenouil’s favourite (she’s the Press Manager of Chanel in Spain). French kitchen and chic decoration.

Maricastaña (Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 12): A cafe and restaurant where you can also enjoy a brunch.

La Bomba Bistrot (Pedro Muguruza, 5): There are few things better than a really good rice.

Tipos Infames (San Joaquín, 3): Wine and books. What else do you need?

Whitby_ambiente_arriba_mesas Whitby (Almagro, 22): Lawyers and consultant’s favourite for the afterwork. The decoration is beautiful and the ambient is nice too.

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