Sunday, 16 October 2011

Art and Fashion: Delaroche meets Deacon

[Image via]
When Ajak Deng modelled this figure-hugging Giles Deacon dress back in February as part of his AW11-12 show, little could we have imagined it would catch the eye of so many celebrities. Based on the protagonist of Paul Delaroche's seminal painting, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, it was perhaps a more intellectual choice than your everyday satin slip for a red carpet event. Personally I've always loved the painting and it's one of my must-sees if you ever visit the National Gallery in London, so the fact that it's been transformed into a wearable piece is really exciting.

[Image via]
With a waspish waist, this version of the print plays into the painting's themes of being trapped and bound, as well as turning the idea of innocence on its head somewhat. The wearer of this dress is very much in control and flaunts her silhouette, unlike poor Jane who is being guided to the executioner's block. It's an undeniably dramatic choice as a dress. In case you're wondering who Lady Jane Grey was, she had been handed the English crown as Henry VIII's son Edward lay dying. An aristocratic girl with plans for female empowerment, Jane's rule lasted just nine days before she was ousted by Edward's Catholic sister, Mary Tudor. History lesson over.

[Image via]
This time Deacon has bound the image in a layer of nude that mirrors his previous contouring attempts, but is perhaps more futuristic and angular. The addition of a polo neck also means that the wearer's head floats above their body, which is perhaps cruel considering the beheading that the original picture is preparing us for. Yet, in this tiny excerpt, we cannot see the other figures or the fate that Jane awaits, so she is merely presented as a blindfolded girl. The context of Delaroche's painting is lost here, and it's certainly an unusual interpretation.

[Image courtesy of Empics].
I think Lily Cole (left) had the right expression with this dress - it's hard to smile when you're working execution chic. Pixie Geldof suits the shape best, and the peep toe heels she's chosen are a better addition than Lily's basic courts or Li Na's clumpy shoe boots - the band of the peep toe mirrors the band of the blindfold in the print.

[Image via Google].
Here's the Delaroche painting in all its glory. It's scary, macabre and historically important, and it ensures that Lady Jane Grey isn't confined to paragraphs in history textbooks; she's remembered as a tragic but pivotal woman in the story of the English monarchy. And she looks great on fabric.


  1. Really interesting post, Lily Cole looks really great in the dress!

  2. That lace skirt is amazing, so hot and sexy.

  3. Thanks, Cherry! She does look brilliant - it's a very striking dress and it suits her.

    I agree with Tereza about the lace skirt, and it's also the perfect match for the dramatic top.

    Polly x


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