When times get tough, designers get creative and flamboyant escapism is often the order of the day. But the autumn collections were more about high-church asceticism. Arcane, medieval shapes and styles were going on a pilgrimage to the end of the catwalk and back.
Looking sacred has never been so profane – or prolific. Todd Lynn sent out models holding rosaries; John Galliano showed bejewelled wimples; there were nuns on the run(way) at Giambattista Valli, where models were covered from neck to ankle in cloak-like cassocks and chasubles; and at Fendi, they sported leather breastplates teamed with Maid Marian-style snoods.
It chimes perfectly with the unveiling of Russell Crowe in his new role as Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. In shots released recently, he looks not unlike a model for the cult designer Rick Owens, in tunic and wrist gauntlets, and has reportedly lost more than four stone for the part. Shedding his ponytail-and-paunch look, he's back to his hero of the people (ie Gladiator) good looks and will star opposite elfin beauty Cate Blanchett.
No need to get thee to a nunnery to get the look: the catwalks were awash with classically romantic make-up framed by woollen hoods and structured cutaway funnel necks at Bruno Pieters and Gareth Pugh, and even modern hennin head-dressess at Marc Jacobs, so Saxon up your headgear. There's nothing more flattering than a swathe of sumptuous wool or felt to emphasise flawless skin, big eyes or red lips. Those still unconvinced should refer to Liv Tyler in The Lord of the Rings – not the lady in the Scottish Widows ad. Welcome to the After-Dark Ages.