What am I going to wear today? It depends on a lot of things, the stuff that I have in the wardrobe, the stuff that I’ve managed to iron, or the clothes that best suit the occasion, perhaps with influences from things like fashion, family, friends. For other people, style consultants, personal shoppers and so forth may also be involved.
But with the term Astrofashion, I would like to suggest a different system. The colour of the day. Every day has its colour. The colour provides a defining ingredient for the day’s outfit.
Seven days, seven colours
There are seven days in the week. The names of the days suggest a link to the seven planets of ancient science. Isaac Newton theorized the existence of seven colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – but apparently he put in indigo specially to make seven colours (he liked the number seven), and so I would simplify this and say that we have red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and black/white/grey.
Monday – black/white/grey
Let’s start with Monday. Linked to the moon, the metal silver, and so to the whole range of tones running from white to black. We could even choose some states of mind associated with the moon: dreams, intuition, family, emotions. And if we’re fashionistas, Armani and his insistence on black and white fits perfectly.
Tuesday – red
Then we have Tuesday. One of the things that surprises me about the days of the week is that the links with the planets exist in different languages. Just as Monday in Italian is lunedì (from luna, moon), Tuesday in Italian (to take an example of a Romance language) is martedì, connected to Mars, the red planet, and god of war. The English Tuesday is derived from Tiw’s Day, a reference to the Germanic god Tiwas and the Scandinavian divinity Tyr – gods of war. So there can be no doubt about the colour of Tuesday: red. The metal is iron.
Wednesday – orange
The name Wednesday was Wednesdei in Middle English, and wōdnesdæg in Old English (before the 13th century), and this was derived from a local version of the Latin term ‘dies Mercurii,’ day of Mercury, because the Germanic god Woden (Wodanaz or Odin) corresponded to Mercury, the god of that day for the Ancient Romans. In Italian, the day is mercoledì. The characteristics: communications, learning, divining. The colour: I would say orange, the colour of some mercury salts (in Italy they use something called mercurio cromo as a disinfectant for minor wounds; it leaves a lovely bright orange colour on the skin). I was reassured to find that the defining colour of luxury brand Hermès is orange. Hermes is the Ancient Greek equivalent of Mercury. However apparently Hermès adopted this colour by chance: during the Second World War, shortages of paper and card forced them to use the only materials available, orange card and brown ribbons. This became their signature colour combination.
Thursday – blue
Thursday comes from Thor’s day, a Norse god whose name was originally Punor, and who wielded thunderbolts. The correspondence is with the Roman god Jupiter or Jove, who lives on in the Italian giovedì. The colour is blue, the metal tin – which has a bluish silvery tinge – and the characteristics are dedication, loyalty and luck.
Friday – green
Friday is linked to Venus, through the Norse goddess Fríge, who corresponds to the Latin Venus (in Italian, venerdì). Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty and love, just like Fríge. The metal is copper, and the colour can be seen on any copper object that has oxidised over time: green.
Saturday – violet
Saturday is directly linked to Saturn, whose metal is lead. Characteristics are change, death, motivation, understanding. The colour is violet.
Sunday – yellow
No prizes for guessing Sunday, and the colour yellow. In the Romance languages (domenica in Italian) the name is based on the words for ‘the Lord’s day.’ The metal is gold, and the characteristics are authority, power, friendship, healing and wisdom.
And why seven days of the week? Apparently this is not based on anything astronomical, unlike a day or a year which are governed by the rotation of the earth. It runs back to ancient traditions in Jewish and Babylonian civilizations, and it was also a feature of ancient China. The number seven seems to have a sort of deeper meaning, because it appears in all sorts of expressions such as the seven ages of man, the seven wonders of the world, seventh heaven, the seven pillars of wisdom and so forth. There are seven notes in the musical scale, seven chakras, seven arms on the Menorah. Perhaps the progression through the week, running progressively from one metal to another, symbolizes the alchemical opus, the idea of creating gold from a base metal by means of a series of transformations. This itself was a symbolic representation of our own course through life with a constant aspiration for wisdom and improvement. It also suggests the cyclic nature of life, from birth to death, creation and destruction, from season to season.
The alchemical process is illustrated, in the usual virtually incomprehensible fashion, at the Porta Alchemica in Rome. This “Magic Door” can be seen in the gardens on Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. According to legend, a pilgrim – later identified as the alchemist Giuseppe Francesco Borri – staying at Villa Palombara, built in about 1680 by Marquis Massimiliano Palombara, passed through the door and disappeared, leaving behind a few flakes of gold resulting from the successful alchemical transformation of lead into gold, and a document presenting a serious of symbols and inscriptions describing the process. The marquis had the symbols engraved onto the five gates and walls of the villa, in the hope that some day someone would be able to decipher them. The Porta Alchemica is the only surviving part of this material. At the centre of the jamb, an “oculus” symbolizes the sun and gold. On the two jambs, there are six symbols, with on the left, from top, Venus/copper, the Moon/silver, Mercury, and on the right, from the top, Mars/iron, Jupiter/tin, Saturn/lead.
To sum up, astrofashion is a way of feeling connected to all this, to the grandiose sweep of life and nature, to an archaic dimension that seems to have been swept away by our hyper-technological world but that is still there and that, in the end, will remain.
And it has one practical benefit. I am absent-minded, and so after having made a conscious decision as to which shirt to put on, for the rest of the day, all I have to do is take a glance at it to remember which day of the week it is!