Is the pope even influencing fashion design?
"This pope is what we all needed," says top Italian designer
POPE FRANCIS, who was appointed head of the Catholic church in March, has inadvertently been causing waves on the Italian fashion scene. His humility and sobriety have apparently wooed some of the country's most notable designers - from Fendi to Dolce & Gabbana - away from the country's ostentatious signature fashion aesthetic.
"It's a whole new spirit in Rome," said Fendi co-designer Silvia Venturini Fendi. "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, 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."
The previous Pope had, in religious terms at least, a more flashy approach to dressing - reportedly a keen lover of Prada shoes and historic robes, headwear and capes. Italy's new pontiff has actively discouraged his priests from being materialistic, urging them to drive "humble", rather than "fancy" cars.
The New York Times' Suzy Menkes reports that his humbleness is having an impact on the industry - with fashion houses adopting a more sombre, restrained aesthetic. Dolce & Gabbana's latest collection referenced southern Italian churches, while Valentino's most recent offering was demure and even featured a floor-length, plain red dress that echoed the robes traditionally worn by cardinals. Italy's emerging designers, who showcased work at last week's AltaModa event, also displayed a move away from the flamboyant, high-octane glamour that the country is known for.
"Maybe there is a moment when we want to focus on other things in life and give fashion a different meaning to clothing," Venturini Fendi said. "Women are thinking and dressing more ethically. This pope is what we all needed."
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