Beauty By Design: Fashioning the Renaissance

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

15 November 2014 – 3 May 2015

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Renaissance art meets contemporary fashion design in a display showcasing the results of two interrelated research projects.

For this exhibition UK-based fashion designers have created new works in response to the Scottish National Galleries' old-master paintings, while renaissance art specialists have engaged in an exploration of beauty and cosmetics.

The theme of body image is central: the historic paintings have provided the designers with a chance to challenge current perceptions of physical beauty – particularly the ‘thin ideal’.

For example, Silhouettes en Dentelle by Mal Burkinshaw consists of seven lace jackets modelled on those worn by Mary, Queen of Scots, King James VI and Lady Agnes Douglas. They do not conform to UK size measurements and are also non-gender specific – a reminder contemporary notions of 'normal' body shapes are a recent construct.

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The designs are displayed alongside some of the paintings which inspired them, such as Paris Bordon’s Venetian Women at their Toilet, 1545.

Venue information

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5pm (Thu until 7pm)

Closed 25 – 26 Dec

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)