From Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mother Teresa (now St Teresa of Calcutta), nuns occupy a special place in popular consciousness as figures of fondness, fun, strictness, purity and grace. Many of us identify nuns by their deceptively simple form of dress – few of us understand, however, that the habit is also a visual code.
A collaboration between GraphicDesign&, Cambridge theology graduate Veronica Bennett and graphic illustrator Ryan Todd, Looking Good: A visual guide to the nun’s habit identifies and illustrates the dress of more than 40 Catholic communities of nuns and sisters. It catalogues and compares this ‘extra ordinary’ religious clothing, explaining its components, significance and distinguishing identifiers. The accompanying text, incorporating visions and miracles, high drama and humble beginnings, persecution and insurrection, reveals how the story of the habit is also that of the struggle between the powerful and the poor; of politics, social care and the role of women; and of the interplay between culture, fashion and faith.
In Looking Good, graphic design and illustration are employed with clarity and charm to decipher this most enduring and evocative form of visual identity – and present it for fresh appreciation at a time when it appears to be in demise.
Designer: Lucienne Roberts
Binding: Softbound book