Dressing like a Pre Raphaelite

Dante Gabriel Rosetti, right Blue Bower, left Lady Lilith

Tate Britain made our (well my) week last week by inviting us to the opening of the Pre Raphealite exhibition. it opens on September 12th, but we will be there on Monday so will tweet and Instagram our views for your immediate pleasure!

The thing is, what to wear?

The Pre-Raphs were my A level art subject, at 17 all I wanted was hair like Lizzie Siddal and some ruffle-shirted poet -type wooing me with romantic notions and sketching while I sat about draped in sumptuous velvet dresses from Laura Ashley and Droopy & Brown. I had a poster of John William Waterhouse’s Lady Of Shalott on my bedroom wall for ages, although my all time favourite  PR picture is Fredrick Leighton’s Flaming June (see below). I got over the clingy arty-type male pretty quickly (way to needy) but never my lost addiction to velvet or the Pre-Raph movement.

After a bit of searching, I found this lovely iris print black silk maxi dress from Tucker (at Liberty) which I reckon would be perfect for the modern Pre-Raph wardrobe. I wont really be buying it (it’s £350 and it’s a maxi dress…we all know that spells trouble outside of the holiday environment) but it is beautiful.

But I could also be tempted by the gorgeous Richard Nicoll Stella silk dress to evoke the hues of Flaming June, a bit obvious maybe? And certainly a bit pricey at £410, although it looks hugely useful.

Fredrick Leighton’s Flaming June, left and the Richard Nicoll’s dress that today’s June might have worn

Or I could perhaps nip over to the very pretty Somerset range, from the quite Pre-Raph-looking designer Alice Temperley, it’s her first collection for John Lewis and well priced and full of gathered flourish. The spot mesh tunic (tunic is a word the Pre-Raphs would have liked) in black is lovely at £89, as is the silk pintucked-and-frilled-cuff cardi in black at £79. It’s a very romantic range, with strong Pre-Raph overtones and I’m quite keen to see it in real life as it has been selling really well, according to John Lewis.

Whatever, the outfit will come together on the day. I’m not sure what the rules are on photo taking at the exhibition but I’ll try for a few covert ones so make sure you check in with us on Monday and look at the Instagram page.

Are you all liking our new Instagram page by the way?

The Pre Raphaelite Victorian Avant-Guarde exhibition opens at the Tate Britain Sept 12th until January 2013. You might like to check out the Tate’s pinterest board on the Pre Raphs too.


  • Helen says:

    Love your modern take on Pre-Raphaelite style. The colours in Pre-Raph paintings are like stained glass, so sumptuous and glowing; and all the greens and oranges in Rossetti’s works are such opulent autumn colours too.

  • Sue says:

    We’ve tickets for next Friday and, following your recent post, are planning to combine this with a trip to the Chelsea Physic Garden (had never heard of it before – bit embarrassing…). Love all the colours of the Pre-Raph paintings and Tucker do lovely prints in general.There was a great JW Waterhouse exhib at the RA a couple of years ago.It always reminds me a bit of being a lot younger, all that overwrought emotion.Sue

  • Amanda says:

    Glad you’ve been inspired ladies, and enjoy Chelsea Physic Garden Sue! There’s also Fredrick Leighton’s home in Kensington if you are feeling lively……. http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/subsites/museums.aspx

  • Sarah says:

    Leighton’s house is lovely, so that’s a great recommendation. I’m really looking forward to the exhibition and I’m taking myself to John Lewis to check out the Alice Temperley clothes too (I’m a sucker for a bit of ladylike gothness). I was very excited when the Tate got Flaming June on loan, so it’s good to find another fan ;-)

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