Pope Frances Unwittingly Inspires Italian Fashion Designers to Tone it Down

In the latest in ironic fashion trends, Italy's new Pope Francis has inspired Italian fashion designers to give up their typically bombastic looks in favor of more restrained, somber designs. Pope Francis has urged his priests to focus on humility in both life and aesthetics, asking that they not drive fancy cars, for example. And fashion is taking note.

Dolce & Gabanna's fall ad campaigns feature a priest in full priestly garb, and the ads are set in what appears to be a beautiful old church. Their fall 2013 runways featured several eye-catching gold necklaces that appeared to be inspired by crucifixes. Valentino featured a simple floor-length red dress in their fall collection, an apparent homage to Italian cardinals. And Italian fashion for fall seems more demure and subdued overall, both in color and design.

It would be easy to mock a trend like this, as the Pope plus fashion equation seems ripe for South Park satire, but the thought behind the trend is actually quite lovely. Fendi co-designer Silvia Venturini Fendi explained the phenomenon like this: "Maybe there is a moment when we want to focus on other things in life and give fashion a different meaning to clothing. Women are thinking and dressing more ethically. This pope is what we all needed."

Giving fashion a depth beyond the superficial? Bringing ethics to all aspects of life? Touché, Pope Francis, and sign us up for the next floor-length Valentino gown.