Hip to be square: Anne Boleyn’s neckline inspires catwalks | Fashion

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In the best-known portrait supposed to be of Anne Boleyn, a square neckline frames her long, slender neck, foreshadowing her macabre date with the executioner at the Tower of London in 1536.

Debates over Boleyn’s appearance – and the number of fingers she had – raged for centuries, and no undisputed contemporary portrayal of her has survived. But most historians agree that his style of dress, which was influenced by his beginnings in France, set trends at the English court. She is often depicted wearing a low square neckline, a French-influenced style that came to dominate the Tudor dress.

Now, as a new dramatization of Boleyn’s life arrives on television, the square neckline associated with Henry VIII’s hapless second wife is enjoying a fashion renaissance – 500 years later, it’s hip again. be square.

Portrait of Anne Boleyn by an unknown artist circa 1534. Photography: Digital Image Library / Alamy

Tudor-style square collars appeared on the runways of Bottega Veneta, Ganni, Molly Goddard, Shrimps and Rejina Pyo, often used by designers as a counterpoint to ruffled sleeves and voluminous dresses. Asos offers 2,018 square neck models for sale. “Square neck” searches are up 42% since February on the Depop resale site and 63% quarterly on the Lyst fashion shopping app. Reformation’s £ 248 Sigmund dress – which pairs a very boleyn-ish neckline with a modern thigh slit – is one of the most sought-after dresses in the app.

In a year when the dramas of the day had a high fashion influence, with television replacing all other social activities, square collars were ubiquitous. A ravishing emerald green dress with a square neck was a focal point of the plot of the lavish film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, while the Regency square neckline – with her quivering breasts – played a leading role in the hit show. by Netflix Bridgerton.

A model walks the runway at Bottega Veneta during Milan Fashion Week.
A model walks the runway at Bottega Veneta during Milan fashion week. Photograph: Victor Virgile / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

In the upcoming performance of Boleyn’s Life, which stars Jodie Turner-Smith and airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Channel 5, square necklines are even more prominent. They’re worn by all of the female cast members, in eye-catching block colors. “I made the decision not to have any embellishments or embroidery around the neckline, which amplifies the neckline and increases the severity of the fit in a way that really stands out on camera,” said the show’s costume designer, Lynsey Moore.

Moore, who has been praised for her work on Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, thinks the composition of Boleyn’s most famous portrait is part of the reason she is still so associated with style, “because it doesn’t is not a full-length painting, like us with Elizabeth I, we literally only see a lot: the square neckline and the famous initial B necklace ”.

She took inspiration from modern catwalks – including the jewel tones of designer Christopher John Rogers and Prada headbands for stylish reinterpretations of another Boleyn favorite, the French bonnet – as well as tapestries and paintings by Hans Holbein. “The costumes are by no means historically accurate,” said Moore, “but the Tudor essence of the figure is there, with a modern twist.”

This new vogue for showing off the skin at the neckline, with collarbones replacing ponytail blouses and polo collars, feels new after a decade of dressing covered. “Maybe it’s a reaction to the soft, indulgent trends in tracksuits and floaty dresses last year,” said fashion PR Daisy Hoppen, an early adopter of the trend, “that we wanted to wear something that makes us sit and stand up straight and hug our bodies more now that we’re out and socializing again. “

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