the rosary, a rebellious jewel

One of the first moments when rosaries appeared in fashion consciousness happened in the 1930s and 1940s in Los Angeles. Young chicanos, known as pachucas and pachucos, wore rosaries in part to proudly highlight their Hispanic heritage. The sons and daughters of Mexican migrants born in the United States began to form their own identity, an identity clearly distinct from white Protestant America. The men wore a flamboyant style of draped pants, colorful shirts and heavy suspenders, often associated with wooden or beads rosaries. Women often wore fishnet stockings, flowers in their hair and fitted skirts that reacted to the hyperfemininity of time. The style was popularized by the play and the film Zoot Suit , which talked about East LA's East Zoot Suit Riots.


Rosary by Santa Muerte worn by Dani


The pachucos were victims of systemic racism and the segregation of white America and were often considered by their first generation Mexican peers as "not really Mexican". Therefore, wear a   rosary brought them closer to their past while also helping them to adopt a new language and a new style. . This style evolved into a culture of cholo and chola in the 60s, which borrowed many aspects of pachuco fashion and reinterpreted it as a more marked, lowrider and pin up aesthetic. In some cases, rosaries also signified membership in a gang, with beads of different colors representing the different members belonging to the gangs. In others, the rosary was worn as a symbol of protection and reflection of the Latinidad.



At the end of the 1970s, rosaries appeared in the Gothic and punk subcultures. Goths and punks often wore rosaries to reject conservatism and sometimes to criticize the stranglehold of Puritan values over American and British culture. Among the first Gothic and punk figures who used rosaries as fashion and used them in their video images, we can mention the leader of the group Christian Death, Rozz Williams, member of the Bauhaus, and Depeche Mode.


Rosary   by Santa Muerte Paris

"Although there is no dominant religion for Gothic culture, many are drawn to images of the sacred - whether works of art from the early Middle Ages, altars of the Day Mexican dead, Celtic crosses, etc., "says Liisa Ladouceur, author of Encyclopedia Gothica . creator of the video “40 years of Goth style”. "These things are more of a mori flag. Catholic images particularly draw in their overly dramatic beauty - the rosary is not an austere cult; it's also complex, and a pleasure to see and touch. So, in addition to the convenience of finding them plentiful and inexpensive in thrift stores, especially in the early 1980s, before goods bearing the Goth mark were no longer widely available, I understand why so many Goths are attracted to these garments. "

men rosary   worn by   Jonathan

In 1984, Madonna wore the rosary in her video "Like a Virgin". She described her relationship with them as a "safety blanket": they symbolize the Catholicism with which she grew up and became part of her religious brand image. All aspects of Catholicism were integrated into his act, from his name in the title of his album ( Like a Virgin ) to his quest for iconic status.

"She was the first to use traditional culture and to be visible through videos with rosaries," says Diego Rinallo, professor of marketing at Kedge Business School and co-author of Consumption and Spirituality . "Madonna was transgressive… She normalized the wearing of the rosary outside. It was a rupture, to move something from the religious world and to put it in a secular fashion moment."

Madonna. Photo Clifford / Getty


Many fashion historians attribute to Madonna not only the popularization of rosaries, but also the interest of fashion to play with the religious image and iconography.

Fashion photographer Shawn Griffin wrote his thesis, The church of fashion , on the intersection of religion and fashion . He studied how fashion designers, marketers and photographers used images reflecting religious iconography. In Griffin's opinion, religious imagery in today's fashion world ranges from models posing like saints in draped clothing reminiscent of religious art to the use of rosaries and crosses as adornments. "In the late 80s and early 90s, the rosary trend really started with the Immaculate album with Madonna and Jean Paul Gaultier who designed her looks. That's when you have seen bead strings reaching haute couture. "

Then, in the 2000s, Dolce & Gabbana and Alexander McQueen both presented rosaries on their podiums. Rinallo believes that the use of rosaries by Dolce & Gabbana marked a turning point in fashion, in particular because of the importance of two Italian designers who design rosaries on a predominantly Catholic background.


Naomi Campell wearing a rosary. Photo: Sota / Getty

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