Who isn’t obsessed with Paolo Sorrentino’s ground-breaking drama series, The Young Pope? I’m on the fifth episode, and I can’t stop watching. And it appears that the fashion industry is into it, too – it’s quite visible on Instagram feed of Massimo Giorgetti. When HBO airs the new episodes, be sure to see his favourite stills. It’s impossible not to praise Jude Law for the role of frustrated-with-life pope, whose cynical attitude plays on nerves of old cardinals. He smokes cigarettes in Vatican’s holiest chambers, badass. And has those psychedelic visions and dreams… Also, what the pope wears each time catches my eye specifically – the most intricately embroidered mitres, traditional silk choir dresses and fancy papal shoes, kept in red velvet. Amen.
Fashion has never been far from the topic of religion, and we can frequently observe how designers play with various stereotypes. Lately, Catholicism is having a ‘moment’, if you can say so, spanning from Stefano Pilati‘s 2010 outing at Saint Laurent to Miuccia Prada‘s constant love for uniforms – specifically, the “nun look” is her favourite to experiment with. What comes with the feeling of sacrality in fashion is a certain type of refined elegance. As Prada put it in the latest issue of System Magazine, “for me, lace is only beautiful if it’s black, and funeral, and super chic. Or white, for a baptism”. And that’s obvious, if you look at her autumn-winter 2008 collection, which entirely focuses on usage of, somewhat, seductive lace. There’s no wonder why a lace dress seems to be both, very Sunday-at-church, but at the same time a romantic essential of every wardrobe. Italian women, like the ones you can spot in Siena or Palermo, know that, just as their grandmas did.
Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati intepreatation of a modern-day nun-woman.
Meanwhile, Simone Rocha staged her spring-summer 2017 show in Southwark Cathedral, where the models walked down the gothic aisle. The venue matched the charming sublimity of Rocha’s latest line of delicate textures and girlie silhouettes, and it smoothly worked with the collection’s British accents. While working on the collection, the designer took a glance at baptismal gowns and communion dresses, reworking them in authentic broderie anglaise lace. But don’t expect to see a traditional wedding dress here. Simone Rocha’s fascination with perversion oozes in those not-so-bride-ready gowns. Although we’re talking about sacred and holy, the designer’s pieces are far from innocent. Sheer organza sheath with elongated sleeves shyly exposed nipples, while a tulle skirt with embroidered flowers showed some leg… accidentally. Note the models’ patent wellies and synthetic-white, rubber gloves. Red lips and wet hair. Rocha’s Catholic girls coming from good village families are naughty. In a very elusive, gentle way.
In the 90s, the prince of minimalism – Helmut Lang – expectantly presented a look that shocked his biggest followers. A shoulder-exposing black knitted dress would become Lang’s typical classic. But the big, heart necklace (à la Madonna’s Like a prayer) was a statement. Worn like a big cross, that was the moment when Helmut questioned his signature minimalism with use of ornaments. And all types of opulent decorations are close to Vatican’s richness, and the Pope’s collection of heavily embellished signet rings. Alessandro Michele, another Italian who gets Italian women best, isn’t scared to pull off a number of rich rings, necklaces and bracelet at a time. For the last few seasons, Gucci is loved for its jewellery, which defines the term ‘neo-kitsch’.
Demna Gvasalia’s take on Balenciaga is profound, taking under consideration all aspects that were important for Cristobal Balenciaga. For women’s autumn, the creative director delivered flamenco dresses in florals, mentioning Balenciaga’s Spanish origins. This instantly brings on the idea of Catholicism, which was moved this season for the boys. Cristobal was a passionate Catholic, and it was his everyday habit to go to a church on Avenue George V, a stone throw from his atelier. That’s why the last looks were ornamented with Vatican lace, liturgical red and purple silks. As for a menswear debut, Gvasalia nailed it, even though one could be skeptical whether the up-to-now male clients of Balenciaga, used to basic white shirts and sneakers, will devote themselves to this new style religion.
Of course, I can’t forget about high fashion habits, re-invented by such visionaries like Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood or Nicolas Ghesquiere (when he was still at Balenciaga). In case of the latter, the headpieces became must-have beach hats of that season.
A similar look… Eres + Maison Michel rabbit-felt and lace brim hat