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Fashion and Faith: why this picture tells everything about Italy

A group of nuns sat in front of a Prada store while having a quick lunch after visiting the city centre of Florence. This picture shot by Sergio Scognamiglio (@scoser62) on the 21st of June is now becoming a viral phenomenon.

The mayor of Florence Dario Nardella has recently issued the order to pour water on the steps in front of the main churches of the city not to let the tourists to “disrespectfully” sit there.  The internet then started asking to the mayor why he decided not “to water” the nuns too.

This is the reasons why this picture is now becoming so popular generating a bunch of funny memes but a closer look to its details somehow exemplifies the core of the Italian culture.

Kin Novak and Anna Magnani on the set of the movie “The Awakening” (1956)

Italy is well know for its contribution to the fashion world. The sense of style and elegance has been exported to the five continents  by those companies that have made the history of fashion. Prada is one of them. On the other hand in the collective immagination Italy’s culture is permeated by the values and principles of the Catholic Church.

This picture contains those two elements that seem to be decisively in contrast: high fashion is synonym of luxury while the nuns represent moderation and sobriety. The juxtaposition of this two concepts, the net contrast between these two different lifestyles have actually  been continuosly proposed through different forms of art in Italy.


A scene from the movie “Il Vangelo secondo Matteo” by Pier Paolo Pasolini


The movie director  Federico Fellini has insisted on this dualism in his masterpieces. The master of neorealism ( and later of the Nouvelle Vague) Roberto Rossellini or writers like Pier Paolo Pasolini and Giovanni Testori have discussed their struggles through sacred and profane in their works. This comparison became then the archetype of the inner fight between what is wrong and what is right we all have been through and these artists have expressed  it throughout their entire artistic life.



More recently the fashion duo Dolce & Gabbana has taken inspiration from the Catholic tradition of their home country to merge it with their creations. This contrast became for them the opportunity to explore their roots and to propose them to their clients.

pic of nunsThis picture could have been featured in a Fellini’s movie and  recalls then what the Italian artistic scene has been through for years.

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