When the Pre-Raphaelites emerged as a bohemian collective in Victorian England, their work was a response to the triviality of genre paintings. This new vanguard of artists reimagined subjects from nature, literature and poetry inspired by the Romantics. Vulture Editor Lily Maguire’s vision emulates the rebellious response of her artistic predecessors envisioning the pre-Raphaelites in the 21st century. Teaming up with photographer Ama Konadu Otuo, the result is a reaction to the white, CIS-gendered feminine ideal. What would it be like if Boreas, the Greek God of the North Wind, was a young Muslim woman? Or if Proserpine, the Empress of Hades, was androgynous? The creative duo explores these questions in ‘The Modern Pre-Raphaelites’, shooting in eight locations and featuring the work of twelve designers across London and Cambridge.

Zara (she/her), 'Beata Beatrix' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1870

Zara wears a coat by Anna-Sophie Lienbacher @annalieni and dress by Caroline Husband @rollinginfabrics styled by Anna Chan

Rossetti's ‘Beata Beatrix’ portrays the Madonna-Whore complex, glamourising the purity of the ‘Madonna’ ideal. Zara disrupts binary ideas about who can be a ‘Madonna’ 

Pri (she/they), 'The Day Dream' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1880

Pri wears a corset by Caroline Husband @rollinginfabrics, skirt by Delphine @phi.elphi for ORB COLLECTIVE and white top by Olive Hardy Bullen @olivehardybullen styled by Ella Fraser

Rossetti's ‘The Day Dream’ captures his clandestine affair with Jane Morris. Whilst emphasis is placed on ethereal beauty, Pri is a punk re-imagining of pre-Raphaelite purity

Sharleen (she/her), 'The Bridesmaid' by John Everett Millais 1851

Sharleen wears a pink corset by Anansie Dallaston Wood @anansie.creates and trousers/jacket by Aloise Mahe-Stephenson @aloise_mahestephenson styled by Anna Chandler de Waal

The sanctity of marriage defines John Everett Millais’ ‘The Bridesmaid’, drawing from folklore that women can see their true love by passing the wedding cake through a ring nine times. Sharleen rejects conventions, wearing a ring on all but her ring finger

Excel (she/her), 'Lady Lilith' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1873

Excel wears a dress custom made by Hebe June Byrne @hebe_june and Luzan Robinson @luzan.robinson and red corset by Sofie Mo @sofsmo styled by Anna Chandler de Waal

In Rossetti's ‘Lady Lilith’, the female figure uses the seductive potential of hair and beauty to exert control over men. Contrasting the gold locks of Rossetti’s model, Excel (she/her) celebrates the power of female beauty

Jack (they/she), 'Proserpine' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1874

Jack wears a top by Olive Hardy Bullen @olivehardybullen with a jacket by Delphine @phi.elphi for ORB COLLECTIVE and trousers by Aloise Mahe-Stephenson with skirt stylists' own, below styled by Talulah Thomas

The subject of Rossetti’s ‘Proserpine’ was his mistress Jane Morris trapped in a loveless marriage like the Empress of Hades. Rejecting entrapment, Jack Ward is the modern Proserpine liberated from gender norms 

Nabiha (she/her), 'Boreas' by John William Waterhouse 1903

Nabiha wears purple dress by Caroline Husband @rollinginfabrics, coat by Ka Wai Lam @ka.wai.lam, corset by Flora Mae @floramaeart and white top by Olive Hardy Bullen @olivehardybullen styled by Talulah Thomas

The Greek God of the North Wind in John William Waterhouse’s ‘Boreas’ is recreated with Nabiha: a Muslim woman wearing the hijab. Like the young girl buffeted by wind, Nabiha’s windswept headscarf reflects challenges to wearing the hijab

Reuben (they/them), 'Venus Verticordia' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1868

Reuben wears a beige corset by Odile Shi @odile.shi_costume, dress by Aloise Mahe-Stephenson @aloise_mahestephenson and trousers by Delphine @phi.elphi for ORB COLLECTIVE styled by Talulah Thomas

Erotic symbolism defines Rossetti’s ‘Venus Verticordia’ with Cupid’s arrow conveying female desire and roses representing female genitalia. A reimagining sees Reuben grasp an arrow displaying ‘DISMANTLE THE CIS-TEM’

Naphysa (she/her), 'A Vision of Fiammetta' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1878

Naphysa wears a red dress and trousers by Aloise Mahe-Stephenson @aloise_mahestephenson

Idolised white femininity is captured in Rossetti’s ‘A Vision of Fiammetta’. Closely following the composition of the portrait, Naphysa is at once bold, delicate and ethereal

Creative Director: Lily Maguire @lilymaguirexox. Photography: Nana Ama Konadu Otuo @amakotuophotography

Modelling: Zara Salaria (she/her), Priyanka Voruganti (she/they), Sharleen Opia (she/her), Excel Ebere (she/her), Jack Ward (they/she), Reuben Mason (they/them), Nabiha Ahmed (she/her), Naphysa Kyerewaa Awuah (she/her)

Styling: Anna Chan (she/her), Ella Fraser (she/her), Anna Chandler de Waal (she/her), Talulah Thomas (they/she), Carmen Mas Franco (she/they). Set Design: Ella Lowden-Hampshire (she/her), Bernadette Carter (she/her)

Designers: Hebe June Byrne @hebe_june and Luzan Robinson @luzan.robinson at Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts, Caroline Husband @rollinginfabrics at Wimbledon College of Arts, Anansie Dallaston Wood @anansie.creates at Wimbledon College of Arts, Ka Wai Lam @ka.wai.lam at the University of Westminster, Anna-Sophie Lienbacher @annalieni graduated from Wimbledon College of Arts, Aloïse Mahé-Stephenson @aloise_mahestephenson graduated from London College of Fashion, Olive Hardy Bullen @olivehardybullen graduated from London College of Fashion, Odile Shi @odile.shi_costume at Wimbledon College of Arts, phi.elphi for ORB COLLECTIVE, Sofie Mo @sofsmo at Wimbledon College of Arts, Flora Mae Sharp @floramaeart

Locations: Zara in Robinson College's Chapel, Priya in Churchill College, Sharleen and Excel in St John's College, Jack and Ruby in King's College, Nabiha on Castle Mound, Naphysa in the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens

Thanks to: Josh Osman, Akshata Kapoor and Juliette Gueron for helping transport 30 garments from London to Cambridge, Marketa Vasickova for securing 9 London-based designers, and Hebe Byrne & Luzan Robinson for custom making a garment for Excel