As Pope Pius XIII in The Young Pope, Jude Law is sexy and he knows it. Unlike great narcissists of history, however, he doesn’t like showing off his beauty: He declines to reveal his face in his first public address to the faithful from St. Peter’s Basilica and forbids people from taking his photograph. He likes to maintain the papal mystique, if you will. But just because Lenny Belardo is a private fellow doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy fashion. In fact, he’s a finicky and precise dresser, wanting only the best papal accoutrement history has to offer. In one key plotline, he refuses to make his first official address to the cardinals until the papal tiara of Paul VI — the last ever to be worn by a pope — arrives. The costumes on The Young Pope have reflected Belardo’s radical conservatism, and as a character, Lenny Belardo understands how fashion can telegraph power, dominion, and ideology.
“We were very faithful to tradition before Lenny’s internal, and then aesthetic, transformation, in the fifth and sixth episodes, when he resolves to return to a medieval tradition,” costume designers Carlo Poggioli and Luca Canfora wrote in an email. After his grand address to the cardinals, Lenny Belardo’s aesthetic takes a decidedly medieval turn with a confection of capes, miters, and chasubles in heavily embroidered fabrics, which dozens of dressmakers hand-sewed. But everything from the color of the pope’s casual hoodie-sweatpant ensemble (it was cashmere!) to the filigreed mantums were carefully considered. So without further ado, take a moment to flip through Pope Pius XIII’s look book.