Thursday, February 16, 2012

Salvation army

We had the first of our four meetings of the "Religion-Fashion Seminars" at Parsons yesterday evening. The religious studies contingent was small compared to the exploratory meeting last December, but that made room for a squad of bona fide pilgrims, fashion students from Belgium in NYC because of Fashion Week. (I suggested they were pilgrims in jest, but they took on the moniker immediately and even gratefully.) I'd brought along books to spark discussion - you may be able to guess what I was thinking in assembling this set - but they were hardly needed.We discussed cult followings, Sunday best, brand revivals and resurrections, the congregations sitting on pews along runways at fashion shows, the monk-like life of Bill Cunningham, mortification and rebirth through fashion, Karl Lagerfeld as a kind of exorcist, the kind of fashion penance demanded by wardrobe consultants. All very playful, in one way. But in another, it was exciting - and they were really in earnest. One of the Belgian pilgrims said that fashion needed new ways of thinking and religion seemed really helpful because it's "something real." It's not often a religious studies scholar hears something like that!

(The picture above's from a little pamphlet my co-facilitator O designed two years ago in Istanbul.)

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