A few publications announced at the beginning of August that the Met's Costume Institute's next exhibition may be revolving around fashion and religion. Now, loyal readers know that, when certain bandwagons become too crowded (like Elsa Schiaparelli's a few years ago...), we usually get off.
When the religious theme was announced there was a proliferation of brief articles mentioning just a few designers who were inspired by Catholic religion, proving that most critics may actually not know much about the issue or may underestimate its power and ramifications.
Irenebrination has published multiple pieces on this issue (who knows, maybe the Costume Institute has been reading them?), and will step off the religious bandwagon very soon.
For today, though, this post is a major recap of pieces we did on religion (mainly Catholic religion, but there are pieces mentioning Islam and Judaism as well) and fashion.
A few years ago Irenebrination wrote about ex-votos in costumes and in fashion, resuming the theme in yesterday's post. We also mentioned early designs inspired by Catholicism, and looked at some of them in connection with famous film costumes.
We explored in depth the connections between the Ravenna mosaics and a rich Pre-Fall 2011 collection and juxtaposed minimalism to overembellished designs and religious paintings to couture.
We didn't leave any aspect uncovered and even studied a blasphemous marketing strategy at a trade show, the controversies unleashed on different runways throughout the years and some astonishing swimsuits incorporating Jewish symbols.
We also realised while researching things in depth that the best examples of fashion borrowing from religion happened when monastic simplicity ended up inspiring timeless pieces.
In the last few years and seasons there have been young designers who tried to give a new spin to traditional images, but, sadly, religion has often been used like an opium for the masses to lure old consumers and find new ones: it has indeed become a rather common exercise remixing in a urban and graphic key classic and famous paintings portraying Catholic icons, creating ridiculous garments (that allegedly borrowed from religious garments) with no market but with great media revenue potential or launching designer garments for Muslim women.
We looked at richly embroidered vestments, designer vestments (yes, they exist!) and iconic chasubles and at a religious order pretty keen on copyright protection.
Last but not least, we have written about humility redefining Vatican wealth after the election of Pope Francis. In a nutshell, we did an extensive research about the theme that also touched religious art, relics and reliquaries.
In a way Irenebrination already had its very own fashion and religion exhibition a long time ago (but if the Met's Costume Institute needs a consultant they can call us, ah-ah!).
There is something that really annoys us here, though: it will be unnerving seeing how designers we contacted in 2013 to comment about this theme for a piece on a prominent fashion publication (Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Givenchy, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier) and who refused through their PR officers to do so, will now probably be jumping on the religious bandwagon and will be very keen to give interviews.
Well, guess there is not much left to say for the time being, but maybe one suggestion for the Met's Costume Institute's curators: try not to forget (not just how some directors and costume designers looked at religion and influenced fashion, but also at) how certain musicians, and in particular Madonna, helped fashioning religion. Surely, the religious iconography behind some of Madonna's videos such as "Like a Virgin", "Like a Prayer" and "La Isla Bonita" (and rosary beads donned as necklaces...) inspired many designers (first and foremost D&G...). But that's another story and we won't be telling it since we're officially off the fashion and religion bandwagon...