‘Beauty by Design’ – A collaboration between past and present

This weekend saw the opening of a new exhibition, ‘Beauty by Design’, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

A collaboration between  designers, curators, and art historians, it aims to highlights parrallels between portrayals of fashion in Renaissance art and contemporary fashion trends.

The works range from modern reenactments of famous portraits to lace dresses stylised according to traditional ideals of beauty and fashion.

The exhibition began as academic research by the Edinburgh College of Art’s “All Walks Beyond the Catwalk” Diversity Network, which examines the effect of modern fashion on models and workers in the industry, with a focus on “developing a more responsible, diverse and emotionally considerate response to fashion design and fashion design communication.”

Exhibits include works by Mal Burkinshaw, Sally-Ann Provan and Philip Clarke from the ECA.

Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, commented: “This terrific project illustrates how historic portraiture can be a profound source of inspiration to contemporary practitioners in the world of fashion. It is also especially pleasing as a rich collaborative endeavour, which has brought together designers, art historians and curators.

“Our hope is that many visitors will enjoy plotting the connections between the Gallery’s collection and these wonderfully imaginative responses to it.”

Supporters of the exhibition include the ECA, the lace manufactuer Sophie Hallette, and the arts funding agency New Media Scotland.

Chris Sachs, a spokesperson for New Media Scotland, praised the project as pushing artistic boundries. “We’ve usually been interested in projects that look at the relationship between technology and art. But it’s great how [‘Beauty by Design’] challenged contemporary trends in fashion…. It definitely caught our eye.”

‘Beauty by Design’ will be running at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery until May 3rd 2015. Admission is free.

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