Rankin's scarlet women on show at National Portrait Gallery

Portraits of models wearing creations by UK designers to hang beside paintings from collection which inspired them

In the imagination of the photographer Rankin, the scarlet sash of the improbably grateful man kneeling to receive the gift of a bible from Queen Victoria, and the scarlet sleeve of her husband Albert, have been transformed into a swirl of crimson silk designed by Matthew Williamson, billowing around the model Natasha Ndlovu.

A parade of Rankin's spectacular photographic portraits of models wearing creations by British designers including Dame Vivien Westwood, Stella McCartney, Hussein Chalayan, Giles Deacon and Alice Temperley, will hang in the National Portrait Gallery for just one night beside the paintings from the collection which inspired them.

The pairings will include Daphne Self beside the famous Tudor Ditchley Portrait of Elizabeth I – Self is in a short black Westwood gown, Elizabeth in lavishly embroidered white satin – but Self's imperious stance echoes that of the queen trampling the globe beneath her feet into submission.

Mary Wollstonecraft, the Georgian feminist and author, and model Valerie Pain are both contemplative in white, and the Queen – by Andy Warhol and Katie Parsons in Giles Deacon – both pretty in pink.

In the pairing of Natasha and Victoria, only the vivid red appears to connect two very different women. In the Victorian painting by Thomas James Barker, the queen, who is flanked by Albert and two prime ministers, John Russell and Lord Palmerston, is presenting the bible to an unnamed representative of her empire: the title is The Secret of England's Greatness.

The portraits will all be on display for SNAPPED, a special fashion late night opening on 11 February, when the gallery will remain open until 10pm, hosting events including workshops on fashion illustration and a panel discussion joined by model Erin O'Connor, Lorraine Candy editor of Elle, and the equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone.

The photographs, and the events are part of the campaign by the organisation All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, which campaigns to broaden the outlook of the fashion industry beyond the catwalk tradition of stick insect thin models.

Contributor

Maev Kennedy

The GuardianTramp

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