Playing with history, even manipulating it, is amusing in my off-time (which includes the blog), so naturally these images captured my attention: they were commissioned by a British television channel named Yesterday for their tabloid series entitled The Secret Life Of… and are the results of “digital artists working closely with history experts to ensure the portraits gave a real sense of how historical characters would look if they were alive in the 21st Century”. I don’t know how this could be “ensured”, but interesting choices were made in the updating process. For example, Henry VIII was by all accounts a vain man, so he would have maintained his athletic figure through middle age and cloaked it in a bespoke suit–but the jewelry? I don’t think so. I also think he was a traditionalist, so he would have worn a tie, especially for an important portrait-sitting.
Henry’s daughter Elizabeth is described as “the over-the-top queen with the powdered white face, unnaturally high forehead, and a wardrobe that made her the Lady Gaga of the 16th century” . Why then such a boring pantsuit? This modern Elizabeth has been robbed of her femininity, which was an essential feature of her projected character. I would have clothed her in something much more high fashion: she looks like a Dolce & Gabbana girl to me, and the ensemble below (from their Fall 2012 collection) reads royal.
Elizabeth’s contemporary William Shakespeare fares better, I think, but then who really knows? The receding hairline that you see in some historical images (we’re not quite sure what Shakespeare actually looked like) has been “corrected” with a modern hair transplanting process, resulting in abundant curls, and his ruff is replaced by a hipster shirt and vest. The facial hair remains the same, as it does with Henry VIII. Timeless, I guess.