|Detail image c/o of Dolce & Gabbana|
The image above is a close up of the beautiful embroideries in the Fall 2013 Dolce & Gabbana Ready To Wear collection. The images are inspired by the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily. The cathedral was built between 1172 and 1185 under the commission of the Norman King William II of Altavilla and is famous for its gold mosaics.
For those of you unfamiliar with Byzantine religious art, one of its most distinct features is its anti-naturalistic character. In contrast to classical Greek art, which aims at hyper-realistic representations, Eastern Orthodoxy takes a more symbolic approach to religious imagery. The artist has very little freedom in the depiction of his subject. So very little freedom, in fact, that the proper way of referring to the icon-creation process is "writing". You write, you don't paint an icon. There are principles you must follow and elements you need to include in order to comply with the Canon. Heck, even your color choices are pre-determined for you:
- Gold represents Heaven
- Red represents love, passion, divine energy, the triumph of life over death.
- Blue stands for human life and is considered the color of the Mother of God
- Purple is the color of the clergy
If you look closely at icons, for example, you can see that some buildings are painted purple: that signifies that a particular building is a church. Also, in some icons you can notice that the Virgin Mary is painted with blue layers of garment under her red robe. That's because she is a regular human being that has been graced by the will of God. In contrast, Jesus is often portrayed the other way around, in red under-garments because he was sent to Earth by a Heavenly Father.
I am VERY curious to know how much attention the design team at Dolce & Gabbana has invested in representing symbolism of the iconographic canon. The colors seem Byzantine and the iconic imagery appears true to form but I wonder if they were "writing" as they were sewing, too.
Either way, I am in awe.