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Retro fashion lovers

14 September 2009 by Lisa

Pale woman in a blue dress

She’s in fashion

You may think that retro fashion right now is all about shoulder pads, pink lippy and the influence of the 1980s. But some designers have shown that for the end of 2009, they are finding their inspiration in an era that is much more retro – try going back another 200 years to the 1780s!

Elle magazine has picked up on this trend, which they say is inspired by the paintings of the ‘Old Masters’ and did a whole spread on it in their September issue. Dolce & Gabbana have practically based their whole new collection around it, with sumptuous devoré velvet skirts, silk corsets in deep jewel colours and long flowing gowns with prints from paintings. We have several pieces of costume from the 18th century in our collections, one of which you can see here, which definitely has similarities to the D&G runway look below!

Elle reckons the ‘muse’ for this trend is the ‘porcelain-skinned creature in a heavily gilded painting in the National Portrait Gallery’.  But you don’t need to go all the way to London to find paintings to inspire you! You can come and look at a painting from this period by Joshua Reynolds of ‘Miss Elizabeth Ingram’ at the Walker Art Gallery (pictured).  Wonder at her pale skin, opulent blue silky dress, corset and that dash of hand-

Model on catwalk

Dolce and Gabbana dress

on-the-hip insouciance that wouldn’t be out of place on the catwalk.

Reynolds created paintings that imitated the style of the Old Masters. He believed that by imitating the Old Masters he would help to ‘educate’ the British public, as he thought their taste was quite limited. You can also see works by these ‘Old Masters’ in our collections, such as Nicholas Poussin, Rembrandt van Rijn and Peter Paul Rubens.

But if all this expensive fashion seems out of step with the current economic climate, then have no fear. I read in one magazine that a ‘recessionista’ way of getting the look would be to borrow the tassled tie-backs from your parents’ curtains! Not too sure about that.

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