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.”
GET THE PAPAL INSPIRED LOOK:
Nothing could be more symbolic on the day of Pope Benedict XVI’s last Sunday blessing from his papal window than Cardinal Red blood spilling onto the Dolce and Gabbana runway. The blood was a metaphor for the dresses in that iconic red hue as the models marched out for the show’s finale. Although this Fall/Winter 2013-14 collection was inspired by the Cathedral of Monreale, one could not help but simultaneously think of the Pope’s last few days as Saint Peter’s successor.
The collection was once again an ode to Italy, Sicilia to be precise, Stefano and Domenico’s source of inspiration. This Italian region has proven to be the duo’s gold mine for ideas, and in the past they have taken everything from the peasantry to the kitsch and translated them into fashion success. For their Fall/Winter outing, they looked to the Cathedral of Monreale and literally extracted the mosaics from the walls transferring them onto everything from bags to tunics. In fact, the opening set of looks were romanticized versions of the cathedral’s relics; from the ecclesiastical iconography and mosaics on dresses to the Byzantine Cross in the form of earrings and pendants. The result: a fusion of wealth and Christian imagery.
Dolce and Gabbana also offered several subdued options in comparison to the gilded frocks that made an impression on the runway. A section of looks devoted to the color grey was transcribed by tweed and wool offering blouses, coats, and separates to those with quieter tastes. Following the grey period were the reappearances of the Sicilian black widows and the virgins in white that showcased the duo’s skilled lace handiwork.
In spite of all the beautifully crafted clothing that emerged from this collection, nothing was more powerful than the attire made in Cardinal Red. I find it interesting that the last model came out in a white icon shift adorned in a Byzantine crown and jewels only to be followed by a Holy See, or rather Sea, of red dresses as the finale. Dolce and Gabbana were quite literal in their Fall/Winter 2013-14 collection; the models in that religious red marched out of the show as if they were going into conclave. We know how the story ends: only one of them will return wearing white.