Dolce and Gabbana pay tribute to Pope Francis?

The Sicilians adore Pope Francis. This is not just because he once worked as a nightclub bouncer and is way more down-to-earth than any other pontiff in living memory.

He is the first pope ever to condemn the Mafia, repeatedly and unequivocally. He rejects the pomp and wealth of the traditional church and genuinely helps the poor. He repeatedly hits the headlines in Italy with his warmly welcomed comments that the Catholic church has focused too much on condemning abortion, contraception and gays while neglecting the need for mercy and compassion.


Francis does not let people kiss the papal ring on his little finger. This resonates deeply with all Sicilians. When my husband was a little boy, the Mafia bosses used to go out into the town square every Sunday and make the terrified and humiliated citizens kiss their own ring as a mark of “respect” and submission. It was a revolting parody of the church’s own outdated and humiliating ritual of greeting to God’s representative on earth.


For this winter 2013-2014, Sicilian fashion designer Domenico Dolce and his partner Stefano Gabbana paid tribute to the new pope. Apart from sending hordes of models down the catwalk dressed in cardinal red and ecclesiastical bling, they created dresses inspired by the Byzantine churches and chapels of Sicily.

Without further ado, let’s take a fashion tour. This model’s crown is like the medieval ones that I have seen in churches and museums around Sicily. Her dress is obviously a mosaic…


…like this one, of King Roger II, the first Norman King of Sicily. Notice his crown also looks rather like hers. All Sicily’s Byzantine churches date from the period of the Norman French, who took Sicily from the Moors.


This model not only has Roger’s crown; her dress shows a copy of the mosaic that he had on his bedroom walls, in his palace the Palazzo Dei Normanni in Palermo.

Gosh I wish I were filthy rich! And younger. And thinner.


Keeping the theme religious, the ladies looks so lovely they might be rather distracting for these trainee priests. What do you think?


Here’s another portrait of Roger, and some mosaics which remind me of the ones in the Cathedral of Cefalù. The gold tesserae in the mosaics in these early medieval churches are made of solid gold cubes, by the way. Thousands of them.

The model’s earrings also look like Medieval Sicilian ones. Despite all this wonderful Dark-Ages bling, you may notice that rings are notable for their absence. Don’t you think that might be quite symbolic?


This portrait of Jesus is from Monreale Cathedral near Palermo. It is famous for the fact that Jesus seems to be looking right at you, no matter where you stand in the church.

Susy holiday A 2008-07 219

Although the Normans took Sicily from the African Arabs, they admired their culture so much that they copied almost every aspect of it. They started wearing Arab clothes, ate Arab food, kept their women in harems, and offered enough incentives to make the Arab architects stay and keep building in their own style.

This is why Monreale Cathedral look rather like a mosque. These columns in its courtyard are decorated with gold mosaics:

Susy holiday A 2008-07 256

This model is wearing some angels from Monreale Cathedral.


This portrait of Jesus is from Cefalù Cathedral, a small and enchanting town on the north coast of Sicily which has a beautiful beach, fantastic night life and fascinating history all around you.


Let’s have a better look at those angels:


Now can you see them on her handbag?

I examined this bag covetously in the shop in Palermo, and it was encrusted with beads and jewels all sewn on by hand. I hadn’t realised how much I needed another handbag till I saw it!


The distraught lady in this picture is wearing a crucifix just like the Medieval ones often seen in Sicilian churches draped around statues of the Virgin Mary or various saints. Lots of them were left as offerings at the sanctuary of Santa Rosalia, at the top of Monte Pellegrino outside Palermo.


I have to say, if I owned one of these, I would be a lot happier than this young lady! I would be jumping for joy!


19 Comments Add yours

  1. T. Franke says:

    Omg omg! Another victim of the Francismania … *smile-sigh*
    Disillusion is on its way …

    Francis just says the same as Ratzinger, but God let a great wonder happen: The media now listen to the pope whereas they did not listen to what Ratzinger said … ah … wait … there is a difference: Francis is more open to socialist ideas … maybe the wonder happens because Berlusconi was right when he said that journalists are all communists?

    Here is what Ratzinger had to say about the Mafia (wow, he even visited Sicily, Ratzinger did not travel much!):

    And this article additionally informs about the engagement of John Paul II against the Mafia when he visited Sicily:

    (But I can understand that a gesture like the ring-kissing has a message.)


    1. Thanks for those links. I did not hear about Ratzinger or Pope John Paul speaking against the Mafia on the news here in Sicily! Of course that does not mean it was not reported.
      I think perhaps the reason the journalists in Sicily are making so much more fuss over Pope francis is the way he speaks. He is so passionate and so VERY direct. He does not only speak out againt the people who are active murderers and extortionists in the third person. He tells everyone who tolerates a little bit of corruption that they are sinning and they must stop or they will pay in the afterlife.
      They broadcast one of his sermons in which he said “You criminals – and I know there are some of you here in the congregation right now – bring dirty bread home to your families. The bread you feed your children is bought with dirty money that you stole through dirty activities, through accepting bribes, through other corrupt actions. You are feeding your families with your sins.” This is just quoted from my memory and may not be correct verbatim, but the gist of it was this – it was so powerful and felt very different from anything I have heard before. It was veyr much talked about in Sicily… and the other popes weren’t.

      Personally, though, I am waiting to find out what he does about this chronic problem of pedophiles in the catholic church. They have been moved about and protected for too long and defrocking them is NOT a sufficient punishment. They should be excommunicated at the least and of course, most importantly, handed over to the civil courts to serve life sentences for their crimes. The involvement of the civil powers is often kept at bay because in many Catholic countries, the church tends to exert far more power, and far beyond the reach that it really should.


      1. T. Franke says:

        O yes, I fully agree with the demand for involving civil power in the pedophiles scandals. What I really miss are not only nice words but practical answers. For example the problem of the refugees from Africa at Lampedusa, where Francis made a visit. Everybody knows that something is wrong. But everybody knows at the same time that just opening the borders is not a solution. So, Mr. Francis, where is your solution? Exactly he is the person in Europe who could create pressure on politics if he opened a perspective – but I have not heard any practically viable perspective from him. Francis made a lot of hope to certain people but there is a certain danger that he ends like Obama.

        Now, Dolce & Gabbana exploits the Francismania for their financial interests. Funny things happen in Europe with euphoria in public life. Another euphoria is the Greenhouse effect story. In Germany, a politician of the Green party (once strict pacifists) was asked about a weapons factory. Her answer was: “Oh, there is no emission of CO2, so it’s ok.” – You could run mad …

        … I imagine Dolce & Gabbana creating a collection with pictures of nice German Leopard panzers sold to Saudi Arabia with an “emission-free” badge and “one-gun-one-tree” shawls 🙂


      2. Maybe you and I should go into business designing that fashion collection? I’ll split the profits with you!!! 😉


  2. Saw some of these in the shop in Taormina last fall and on the red carpet here in the US recently. Was about to write it up but you beat me as usual. Lol. Of course you did a better job than I’d have done anyway. 😉

    Such fun. In my dreams I’d buy one, too. In reality, I don’t think I’d get an arm in.



    1. “Can’t get an arm in” is what I thought when I saw them, too.
      It’s shoes and bags for us, dahling, shoes and bags.


  3. Patricia says:

    Wonderful post! I loved seeing the photos of the mosaics…especially the Duomo at Cefalù, where my great-grandparents were married and my grandmother baptized.


    1. What a wonderful place to get married! Possibly the most romantic church in the world for a wedding….


  4. Dianne Patrizzi says:

    Fascinating, dazzling and educational. Thank you for this. The only thing missing is Nicolas Cage dressed as Jesus by a Moorish mosaicist. He could have been the model for them back in time. heh!


  5. beba says:

    Beautiful! Thanks!


  6. barbedwords says:

    Stunning dresses but those models in the ads don’t look real – they’re so thin and their faces so blank, they look like aliens! (And I’m not just jealous because I’m another one who couldn’t get an arm in…)


    1. I’m afraid I don’t really perceive fashion models as real people. They look like animated robotic versions of those plastic models they drape clothes on in shop windows. They even practise walking in that funny way that doesn’t look normal.


  7. T. Franke says:

    Once a Sicilian told me:

    Chi viene a Palermo
    e non va a Monreale
    arriva come porco
    e parte come maiale.



  8. unwillingexpat says:

    I adore this collection from D&G! Did you see the mini version for children! Got to love Italians love of designer clothes and those terribly spoilt children who are decked out in it all!!


    1. Have you ever seen kids at the playground with their mothers telling them not to go on the slide or mess up their trousers because they cost 300 euros? Poor, poor kids!


      1. unwillingexpat says:

        That’s so common, those children are being stifled really!! There is one little girl at my sons scuola materna who has a fresh new dress every week complete with stockings, she has wet her self many times because there is no way she can get them off on time. I think her mother is very cruel. I send my son to school in a comfortable tracksuit, no buttons or zips to negotiate and comfy shoes to boot. Kids need to be comfortable, fashion can come later …


  9. Laruchka says:

    Everytime I see a Dolce and Gabbana collection it makes me want to go to Sicily.

    Liked by 1 person

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