Color often provides us answers to questions even before they are asked. Gold at a track event translates into a first place win, baby pink in the hospital means “it’s a girl,” and robin egg blue at a wedding suggests that the Mr. and new Mrs. are receiving a gift from Tiffany’s. But in Roman Catholicism, color does not only function on symbolism, it also paints a hierarchical picture — priests don black and bishops are cloaked in violet while cardinals (essentially bishops with additional privileges,) are swaddled in that iconic red hue. However, the most potent color emerging from that rainbow is colorless, or rather white, and this is limited to the Pope.
In physics, white is not considered a color; it is defined as a combination of all colors of the visible light spectrum. I believe it is quite metaphorical when interpreting religious symbolism thru a scientific fact. The Pope has multiple titles such as the Bishop of Rome, Parish Priest of la Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, and before being exalted the Supreme Pontiff, he was an appointed cardinal. Therefore, the Pope is a metaphor for all the religious hues represented in the church — he is the so-called light of the church.
In celebration of yesterday’s white smoke and the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the newly crowned Pope, I think it is time for fashion heresy, since the dogmas already established are infallible. White has proven to be one of the biggest trends of the season, and it is a breath of fresh air in an industry that has been dominated by color, patterns, prints, and embellishments (leave that to the cathedrals.) White is pure and holy. It is a First Communion or a Virgin (?) Bride. It is the colorless color perfect for the Successor of St. Peter.
Pope Francis, like St. Francis of Assisi, is a simple man, so he would be an ideal muse for either Maison Martin Margiela’s or Rick Owens’ SS 2013 collections. The former created a cassock-like liturgical gown perfect for a pope while the latter could offer him a blouson that would give him the illusion of a much needed waist. But these would be off-duty looks in comparison to his priestly vestments. During liturgy, Pope Francis could adorn Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2013 collection. Karl Lagerfeld has created a silhouette resembling a mantum, a pope’s long cloak, which would give him an imperial air. However, I think he would be more comfortable in the vintage Balenciaga Butterfly Evening Coat circa 1968 since it reflects his muy simple personality. A papal makeover would be incomplete without ornate regalia, and Dolce & Gabbana’s FW 2013-14 collection could accessorize the look with a golden crown and pectoral staff.
If I were to go all Rachel Zoe on the pope, I would definitely put him in Givenchy SS13 and bring him into the current century. There is something about religious icons printed on ethereal fabrics that would definitely give him some street cred. Besides, I was hoping that Riccardo Tisci, Creative Director of Givenchy, would be the next pope. But with the recent revelation that Pope Benedict XVI’s loafers were not made by Prada, I am not surprised. So, I would like to wish some words of wisdom from The Little Prince to the Prince of the Apostles: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
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