Fashion Inspired by Art: Notre Dame Cathedral's South Rose Window

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For this week’s edition of Fashion Inspired by Art, we’ll be discussing Notre Dame Cathedral's South Rose Window. This beautiful piece is a great inspiration for Easter outfits, or just for adding some springtime color into your ensembles. I hope you all enjoy!

Our Lady of Paris: About Notre Dame Cathedral's South Rose Window

Notre dame cathedral south rose window


Notre Dame Cathedral's South Rose Window (1260) via Wikimedia Commons | Click to enlarge.

Rose windows originated as part of Gothic architecture, specifically in Northern French cathedrals such as Notre Dame. They are comprised of stained glass held together by tracery (supporting iron/stone elements) in a circular pattern. The original design for rose windows was derived from the Roman oculus (large ceiling opening), like that of the Pantheon.

Notre Dame (which is French for "Our Lady of Paris") is one of the most well-known examples of Gothic architecture. The design for its South Rose Window was first created by Jean de Chelles and was completed by Pierre de Montreuill after de Chelles' death. It has undergone severe restorations and alterations over the course of its existence, and some pieces (such as the original central medallion) have been lost entirely. Although the tracery appears black on the inside of the cathedral due to lack of direct light, it is actually stone-colored, like the rest of the building's architecture.

The rose window itself depicts Biblical scenes and the symbolism of the number four in Christianity. Its beautiful design, size, and color place it solidly among the most awe-inspiring features of the cathedral's interior.

Notre dame de paris south rose window


Exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral's South Rose Window (1620) via Wikimedia Commons

Outfits Inspired by the South Rose

Stained Glass Sweetheart

Outfit inspired by Notre Dame Cathedrals' South Rose Window: Fashion inspired by the colorful stained glass


Bracelets, Cardigan, Dress, Ring, Nail Polish, Earrings, Wedges

This outfit is based on the colorful accents of the stained glass in the South Rose window.

This outfit picks out the rich hues of the South Rose with its use of a jewel-tone palette. A dress with a circular floral print looks great with rounded accessories, like these round toe wedges, beaded bracelets, and black stud earrings. Add simple pieces to pull colors from the highly-patterned dress - a plain cardigan and shiny purple nail polish should do the trick. Finish the look by using gold accessories to add cohesion and complete the sense of glam in this fun, feminine outfit.

Tracery Temptress

Outfit inspired by Notre Dame Cathedral's South Rose Window: Cutouts


Bralette, Bracelet, Shirt, Heels, Pants, Earrings, Beret | Hair and makeup photo via ELLE

When viewing the rose window, it is important to realize that the beautiful stained glass exists within the negative space created by the intricate tracery.

This outfit emphasizes the geometric patterns of the South Rose with cut-outs and sleek, black pieces. The skinny pants and the top recreate the contrast between the seemingly-black interior of the cathedral and the bright glass of the window, while the criss-cross pattern of the tracery is mirrored in the strappy heels. The beaded bralette peeks through the cream crochet top, referencing the colorful window while injecting a sense of flirty fun into this look.

Now it's time to accessorize! Make a literal nod to the cathedral with rose window earrings and, if you're religious, a wooden saints bracelet. Top it all off with a bright red lip to make those bright colors really pop!

Symbolism Siren

Outfit inspired by Notre Dame's South Rose Window featuring unique accessories


Dress, Earrings, Rings, Necklace, Flats, Ring, Wallet | Hair and makeup photo via ELLE

Hone in on the symbolism of the South Rose by focusing on unique accessories. The spear earrings reference the lancet (spear-shaped) windows underneath the South Rose, while the 4 ring alludes to the Biblical idea of four.

This dress is a perfect embodiment of the South Rose, with the bright floral pattern standing out against the deep black of the dress.  You can easily imagine light filtering in, especially when you pair it with shiny metallic accessories. Mix the gold of the earrings with the rose gold necklace, and the silver ring, all of which are tied together in the stackable rings. Free up the look with a loose, boho-chic hairstyle and whimsical wallet that complements the dress without overpowering it.

What do you think?

Have you seen or studied Gothic artwork or architecture before? Do you enjoy the look of rose windows? What do you think about the inspired outfits? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions!