It transcends time. It makes a commitment to reality, while flirting with fantasy. It’s the pre-Raphaelite period of art, and it romanced me from first glance.
You always remember falling in love—with a city, with its landscape, with its art. In the heart of my soul city, London England, lies the Tate Britain: Inside a Romanesque marble façade, all columns, and arched windows, rest traditional British paintings. You see, England is known for its literature, its tea, it’s royalty…but aspirational, traditional art is normally credited to the French and Italian masters. But with my first brush stroke of John William Waterhouse’s “Lady Shallot,” I fell hard and fast, for the work of the Pre-Raphaelites. The painting makes the tragedy of the Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Arthurian poem of the same name, tragically beautiful.
The Victorian literati revived such Medieval tales—and painters like Waterhouse, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rosetti reinterpreted their thousands of words into powerful images.
The pioneers of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, were the artistic revolutionaries, against the trending style of the time: “Genre Painting.” Genre painting depicted mundane scenes of “real life,” whereas Pre-Raphaelite pieces were realist versions of the divine or fantastical: Arthurian and Shakespearean Literature, Greek mythology, poetry, and even religious scenes.
“By making them look lifelike rather than abstract—it was almost like they wanted the fairytale to feel tangible to the viewer: as if anything can be possible and should be.”-Kristin Vartan
It’s a mantra I follow, stringing together words for my blog like the Victorian poets publishing at the time, and then painting an accompanying picture with my outfit in photos. That’s why when I collaborated with Visual Artist, Keaton Punch on a photoshoot, I had to pay homage to a movement that has well, moved me. I wanted to incorporate elements of Rossetti’s leading ladies, specifically drawing inspiration for my outfit from “Proserpine,” better known as “Persephone.”
The Empress of Hades is similarly clothed in a satin Emerald gown with puffy sleeves and no waist, while mine does cinch into a more Renaissance-evoking bustier. Her hair spills in raven coils as mine in these photos, but rather than clutching a Pomegranate in regret for ruling the underworld alongside Jupiter (Hades), I decided to emerge triumphant over evil temptation in a halo crown. Keaton made this completely by hand with wire and crystal beads. The inspiration came from the “Heavenly Bodies” theme of the Met Gala.
The set design also had little whispers of Rossetti paintings, along walls of fabric, humble floral arrangements, and leather-bound books or diaries, filled with secrets hinted at in art model, Jane Morris’ eyes. While I’m used to sitting on a desk with the moniker of an anchor/reporter, it was fun to put myself in Jane’s shoes, while also being a co-creator of the concept.
Creative Direction, Makeup, and Styling: by Me
Photos, Set Design, Props, Lighting and Headpiece Craftsmanship: Keaton Punch of Radventure Visuals.
Keeping it Krischic,