You may remember that Vogue dedicated some serious space to a Pre-Raphaelite tribute last September, and that was spectacular. Their use of the actress Saoirse Ronan, posed in such evocative ways was about the only reason for me to read a 'Woman's Magazine' last year...
|Saoirse looking Helen of Troy-ish|
|'The Maiden Standing in the Dewy Light'|
|'La Belle Dame Sans Merci Hath Thee in Thrall'|
|'She Still Delights to Weave the Mirror's Magic Sights'|
Let's take the positives first: I like the fact that Pre-Raphaelite is so mainstream it can be used in a magazine without too much explanation. It is obviously seen as 'British' and classy, and is included in a magazine packed with features on things like classic fashion, seaside getaways and 'Nouveaux Peasants' (people who aspire to an old fashioned way of life, bottling their own sloe gin and keeping chickens. Damn, that's me.) Pre-Raphaelites are now cosy, classic, beautiful and fashionable, and I have no objection to that as it makes them accessible, which is exactly what they should be.
The fashion, although plain, does contain elements that remind me of the Pre-Raphs. The pattern of lace on The Maiden Standing... is like 1960s William Morris and She Still Delights... has a luxurious feel whilst holding onto a fragility. Her dress has the glorious disintegration of something too beautiful to exist for long. La Belle Dame reminded me of the recent portrait of Lily Cole, featured here before, but here she is again, because she is so pretty...
I think out of the whole section La Belle Dame is the most successful in conjuring the elusive modern Pre-Raphaelite as it uses the conceit of a three quarter length picture of a beautiful, glamorously dressed young woman, like this one...
|Mary Magdalene Frederick Sandys|
|Rossetti's patron Frederick Leyland, not to be confused with...|
|Leylandii Hedge. Not Pre-Raph.|
|Josh Homme, lead singer from Queens of the Stone Age|
|Florence Welch, rarely without her Pre-Raphaelite tag|
|Rebekah Brooks and her great hair. Shame about the newspaper.|
In conclusion, I salute Harper's for having a go, but it would have been nice to see them do the same thorough job that Vogue managed last year. It's more than just red hair.