The Muse’s Role in Fashion | The Chic List

Pre-Raphaelite, British art, Tate Britain, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Waterhouse, John Everett Millais, art and fashion, 19th century, 1800s dress, sweetheart neckline, bustier dress, sustainable fashion, satin dress, Proserpine, Victorian dress, Reformation dress, Met Gala, gown

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.”

Pre-Raphaelite, British art, Tate Britain, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Waterhouse, John Everett Millais, art and fashion, 19th century, 1800s dress, sweetheart neckline, bustier dress, sustainable fashion, satin dress, Proserpine, Victorian dress, Reformation dress, Met Gala, gown

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.

Pre-Raphaelite, British art, Tate Britain, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Waterhouse, John Everett Millais, art and fashion, 19th century, 1800s dress, sweetheart neckline, bustier dress, sustainable fashion, satin dress, Proserpine, Victorian dress, Reformation dress, Met Gala, gown

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.

Collaboration details:

Creative Direction, Makeup, and Styling: by Me
Photos, Set Design, Props, Lighting and Headpiece Craftsmanship: Keaton Punch of Radventure Visuals.

Keeping it Krischic,

Kristin Vartan

Also Check Me Out On: 23ABC, ABC7 LA, Entertainment WeeklyThe Hollywood ReporterE! NewsDarling MagazinePepperdine GraphicTwitter, Facebook, and Instagram

One response to “The Muse’s Role in Fashion | The Chic List”

  1. I am so honored to have collaborated with you on this photoshoot! I admire how you were able to pull inspiration from various artistic revolutionaries and Greek mythology. It adds such significance and story to your outfit and all the elements involved! You look like a goddess in these photos and you emanate power and dignity. I love what you said about the artists’ choice to make their paintings lifelike, to maybe suggest to the viewer that anything can be possible. Your perspective is  charming and I can definitely see now why you love Pre-Raphaelite artwork so much! Thanks again for giving me this opportunity to create this lovely set of photos with you. You did amazing!

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