Carol Richardson, The University of Edinburgh
Before news of his hospitalisation for a respiratory infection this week, a fake image of Pope Francis wearing a Balenciaga-style white puffer jacket was posted to Reddit and Twitter. The image – created through AI programme Midjourney – had many viewers fooled into believing that the head of the Catholic church had dramatically updated his style.
As an art historian and an ecclesiastical historian, the image has fascinated me, not least in thinking about the rich history of papal fashion.
First of all, it caught my eye because it looks like shot silk (fabric made of silk woven from two or more colours producing an iridescent appearance). Intentionally or not, it’s a nice nod to the fascia, a sash worn by clerics over their cassocks.