Monday, January 15, 2007

Priestly Chic

What's the latest in fashion? Clerical style. Namely, Msgr. Georg style. Don't believe me? Read this article from the Telegraph.
Priestly chic has hit the catwalk in Milan, with Pope Benedict's pin-up personal secretary inspiring the latest collection by Donatella Versace.
Father Georg Gänswein, or Gorgeous Georg to his admirers, represents a triumph of "more brain and less muscle", according to Miss Versace, who sent blond male models down the catwalk with clerical black jackets and priestly white shirts.

Clerical black and white in Donatella Versace’s collection at Men’s Fashion Week in Milan
"I was certainly inspired by him," she said. "I find his austerity very elegant. It is the right moment to show an ethical and spiritual man, free from all those pointless details. I also like Gregorian garb." She said her ideal man has biceps but "looks for his inside quality and trains it up, the muscles of the soul."

The collection at Men's Fashion Week in Milan won unanimous praise from the fashion press yesterday, and reignited Italy's fascination with the 50-year-old Bavarian who shares breakfast and lunch with the Pope every day.

Father Georg shot to fame after he was promoted to be Benedict's right-hand man in 2003 and became the pin-up of the Vatican, especially after pictures of him playing tennis appeared in Italy's gossip magazines.

Born in the Black Forest town of Riedern-am-Wald, Fr Georg was a part-time ski instructor in Germany and a professor at the Santa Croce University in Rome, run by Opus Dei, before joining the Pope's staff. His main duties involve handling correspondence.

"He is simply beautiful. He is the best news to come out of the Vatican," a female journalist at La Stampa gushed.

The austere and conservative priest, whose hair is now raffishly flecked with grey, fanned the flames of his female fans, who call themselves the Georgiste, by admitting that he had crushes on girls when he was younger. "My senses are healthy, and those that have healthy senses use them," he said.

And another article from the Times Online.
Donatella Versace has often raised eyebrows — and hemlines — with her outrageous designs for women. Yesterday, however, she stunned even blasĂ© fashionistas by launching a “clergyman look” for men, inspired by Father Georg Gaenswein, the handsome 50-year-old private secretary to Pope Benedict XVI.

The outfit, modelled at the Milan menswear 2007-08 winter collection, features grey-black trousers and jacket with a clerical-style collar. “I was thinking of an austere, severe and ethical man. I find Father Georg’s austerity very elegant,” said Ms Versace.

Spirituality was “not the same as bigotry”, she said, adding that she was open to the idea of civil unions between gays or heterosexual couples. Proposals to make civil unions legal in Italy have divided the centre-left Government of Romano Prodi and aroused fierce opposition in the Vatican.

“It is the moment to display the muscles of the mind, not those of the gym,” Ms Versace said. “Fashion needs more rigour.” She said she had used a fabric that was “as soft to the touch as the wings of an angel”. The result was dubbed “priestly chic” by fashion writers.

Father Gaenswein, an amateur pilot and keen tennis player, hardly ever makes public comments, least of all on the frequent tributes to his good looks in Italian gossip columns. Last year he broke cover to complain about satirical sketches on Italian TV depicting the Pope. “Satire is fine. But these things have no intellectual quality and offend men of the Church,” he said. The sketches have been dropped.

Father Gaenswein became personal secretary to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2003, and moved into the Vatican with him after he was elected Pope. When Father Gaenswein turned 50 last July he gave a rare interview to Vatican Radio revealing their daily routine.

“The Pope’s day begins with Mass at 7am, followed by morning prayer and a period of contemplation,” he said. “Afterwards we eat breakfast together, and my day then begins with sorting through the correspondence, which arrives in considerable quantity.” He said that he accompanied the Pope to morning audiences, followed by lunch together, a “short walk” and a rest, after which “I present to the Pope documents which require his signature, or his study and approval”.

A Versace spokeswoman confirmed that the clergyman look had been inspired by Father Gaenswein, adding: “Few other places in the world are as influential as the Vatican.”

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