Fashion and the Power of the Pulpit ; Has Pope Francis Influenced Young Designers in Italy?

By Menkes, Suzy | International Herald Tribune, July 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

Fashion and the Power of the Pulpit ; Has Pope Francis Influenced Young Designers in Italy?


Menkes, Suzy, International Herald Tribune


Has Pope Francis influenced the design houses of Italy?

A clerical collar fits neatly at the neckline, a top is plain and long-sleeved, a skirt falls chastely over the knees and shoes are flat, black and mannish -- even if a spark of jewelry at the toes is a reminder that this is a fashion show, not a priestly parade of habits.

The AltaRoma season, which took place here last week, had classic couture clothes for the rich and conventional. But there were also displays of new talent. And most young designers at "Who Is on Next?" seemed to reflect a change in attitude. The aesthetic was as far as could be imagined from the sex-pot, breast-heaving, leg- exposing outfits of the bunga bunga world of Silvio Berlusconi, the politician and media tycoon who has served three times as prime minister.

Such a switch in Italian fashion suggests more than a mere government upheaval. Looking at the discreet, sober, even chaste outfits put forward by the new designers, you have to ask this question: Has the humility and abstention demonstrated by Francis since he became pope in March influenced the fashion message coming out of Italy?

Silvia Venturini Fendi, co-designer with Karl Lagerfeld at the Roman luxury leather-goods company and president of the Italian fashion organization AltaRomAltaModa, says a societal shift is expressing itself in clothing.

"It's a whole new spirit in Rome," she said, "and this is evident when we have a new pope going back to real Christianity, which lately was far from the church."

"People are looking for meaning," she continued, "and the real meaning of fashion is as a tool to express yourself. Sometimes fashion hides your language but we look for meaning in materials and fabrics to allow true personality to come out."

Ms. Fendi also sees this as a reaction to wasteful mass-market fast fashion, a subject dear to the heart of her sister Ilaria Venturini Fendi, who has dedicated herself to upscale recycling. Her Carmina Campus range of bags is made from castoffs like old military blankets, garbage bags and bottle tops. Other purses are made by women's collectives in Africa.

A show by four designers -- from Ghana, Switzerland and Rome's own Stella Jean -- displayed inventive textiles and traditional wax printing brought up date as stylish international clothing.

Simone Cipriani, head of the ethical fashion initiative at the International Trade Center (an arm of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations) said he believed that Pope Francis has already made an impact.

"This Francesco is spreading the right message, also for us who work in this business, to take on responsibility," said Mr. Cipriani, who said that "responsible" fashion, as in products made to ethical standards by craft workers, is increasingly in demand in a world of cheap fashion produced by the poor.

How much is this wishful thinking by people committed to good works, and how much a real change?

Francis appears on the cover of last week's Italian Vanity Fair, which has named him its "Man of the Year." He is lauded inside for his courage and applauded by people like Elton John, who told the magazine: "Francis is a miracle of humility in an era of vanity."

The previous pontiff, Benedict, was often described as the pope in the Prada shoes, though his entourage denied he wore them. He certainly had a passion for historic and religious robes, capes and headwear. A satirical YouTube video called "Vanita in Vaticano, the Pope in Fashion," shows Benedict wearing 48 different gowns, hats, capes and chasubles.

Rome's ecclesiastical shops, like Gamarelli (the pope's official tailor) on Via Santa Chiara and DeRitis on Via de Cestari are stocked with cardinal-red and papal-purple bales of fabric waiting to be made up. There are still batches of decorative and gilded ribbons, even if the glitter is no longer actual gold thread.

The ultimate satire on religious fanciness is the famous fashion show in Federico Fellini's movie "Roma" (1972). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Fashion and the Power of the Pulpit ; Has Pope Francis Influenced Young Designers in Italy?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.