I am just back from the magnificent “Heavenly Bodies” exhibition in New York. The exhibition is a respectful and fascinating exploration of the influence of Catholicism on fashion designers. I highly recommend.
For me, I literally laughed when I noticed a bit of papal subversion. One hears all the time about fashion subverting the norms of bourgeois or conservative expectations.
Perhaps the only thing more glamorous and elaborate than haute couture is liturgical clothing and it’s delightful to know popes are not above a bit of cheeky subversion.
In 1963, Paul VI suspended the use of the papal tiara in favour of the mitre: a shift from pomp to moderated humility. On display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York was the (relatively) simple but beautiful 1964 mitre of Paul VI. Both John Paul II and Benedict have since worn the same mitre.
Cunningly, John Paul II added his papal coat of arms. Amusingly, his coat of arms includes the papal tiara. It’s a funny, gentle nudge back to papal glam.