O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Also where’s your jacket from?
Shakespeare’s masterpiece Romeo and Juliet is a classic heart wrenching tale, but often it’s forgotten that so much of the drama is told through stage dynamics and theatrical conventions. A key element of those theatrical dynamics were of course the costumes on stage. Sixteenth century fashion – for the rich and upper class anyway – was full of decadent fabrics and an excess of it. Romeo and Juliet would have had beautiful embroidered detailing with intricate patterns and metallic silks, all in rich deep colours. The extravagant fashions would have emphasised the romance of the couple and intensified their tragedy. Seeing as we have Valentine’s Day soon approaching we decided to take this idealised romantic fashion and modernise it to make it wearable and hopefully affordable for students.
Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day loved up with your partner or hitting the town with your friends, you can still flaunt these romantic style all inspired by Shakespeare. We chose flowy sheer fabrics, because luckily women no longer wear bone breaking corsets, and we thought a sheer overlay dress would be the perfect modernisation. We emphasised the romantic flirty essence with a pastel rose pink. The pink sheer dress was accessorised with a rose flower crown as Juliet is “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. We also decided to grunge the look up a little with black chunky ankle boots and a black lace choker as Juliet did have an edgy side too. The second Juliet look we focused on the use of sixteenth century ruffles and pleats and went for a very elegant and slightly more sophisticated look with a duck egg blue silk blouse with ties and ruffle detailing and paired it with a grey pleated midi for the perfect romantic outfit. Although the second outfit doesn’t use the quintessential romantic colours, not everyone fancies pink and red, so this blue and grey combination is a great alternative.
We suited and booted the Romeo’s in slightly more structured outfits. The sixteenth century ruffles may have made a comeback in the 80s but we went for slightly more relaxed vibes with a paisley print silk shirt in deep autumnal tones and paired with a ‘pork pie’ style hat, for a stylish almost rocky look. The second Romeo look we used a classic oversized white shirt, with silver rodeo detailing on the collar, to add that touch of metallic decadence Romeo would have possessed. The shirt was paired with a fitted green tweed jacket, in keeping with the darker autumnal shades of the setting, for a mysterious romantic style.
In this love story Juliet has a girlfriend
It’s one of the most famous love stories in history. The classic tale of forbidden love that ends in tragedy. Despite Romeo and Juliet being over 400 years old, there are elements of this tale that still resonate in our society.
Until 1967 homosexuality was still a criminal act in the UK and despite huge leaps in social attitudes towards homosexuality, the LGBT community is still on the receiving end of prejudice and homophobic abuse. In fact, homosexuality is still illegal in 77 countries across the world. This suggests Shakespeare’s forbidden love concept we see in Romeo and Juliet is still relevant today.
Because Romeo and Juliet is such a famous love story and it is, after all, nearly Valentines Day, we decided to create a shoot themed around romance and Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love.
However, Romeo and Juliet is a famous heterosexual romance and does nothing to support the idea that love is love, regardless of gender and sexual preference. Therefore, in our romantic tale Juliet doesn’t meet Romeo and fall head over heels in love. Juliet falls in love with a girl, and Romeo is infatuated with a boy. We wanted to crush the boy-meets-girl stereotype and promote LGBT love that isn’t often publicized in the media.
Our shoot was in the wildly romantic Kirkstall abbey, an 800-year-old piece of history which allowed great contrast between old and new. We created looks that were modern but still retained that romantic essence we wanted to portray.
We hoped that in breaking the stereotype of only heterosexual couples often being publicized in the media, we would help support the LGBT community and remind everyone that love is love, regardless of your sexual orientation.
We love our re-invented, modern day love story and the looks we put together to reflect it.
Photography by Camille Hanotte
Paisley shirt: Topman £32 Pink Dress: Primark £12 Hat: Topman £15 Grey Midi Skirt: Primark £8
Tweed Jacket: Primark £25 Blue Blouse: Topshop £36 White Shirt: Topman £38 Pink headband: Primark £2