The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of British artists and writers who wanted to reform the art world of the 1800s. They wanted to bring emotion, vibrancy, and nobility back to art. Due to their soft, romantic depictions of women in their paintings, they not only inspired a new art movement, they also helped create a fashion revolution in women’s apparel called Artistic Dress.
The Artistic Dress movement started in the 1850s. It rejected the highly structured and elaborately trimmed dresses of the time. Instead, it favored simpler dresses… long, loosely fitted, and flowy as seen in many Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
Medea (1889) by Evelyn de Morgan | Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1868) by William Holman Hunt
As social rules loosened, the movement took on a momentum of its own. Simple, long, loose dresses became a normalcy… bared shoulders, loose chignons, long wavy hair – an everyday style. There is not much rebellion or reformism in this manner of dressing. Yet, those women who wear them – the dresses, the hair styles, the accessories, the mannerisms – exemplify an aspect of Pre-Raphaelite ideals. Here are 12 dresses that recapture the Pre-Raphaelite style today…