Designer clergywear is spreading

You sometimes get the impression that vicars and priests wouldn't mind a brief sashay down the catwalk instead of the aisle, so colourful and inventive are the vestments they wear.

clergy2.jpgIf this is an aspiration, then seven vicars, rectors and curates from dioceses in north western England are going to be in an equal number of heavens on Wednesday, when they model new designs from ecclesiastical outfitters.
The fashion show involves work from the likes of Juliet Hemingray, Hayes and Finch, Cross Designs and J&M Sewing, the last a Royal Warrant firm in Newcastle upon Tyne whose motto, 'There's always time for courtesy', goes with a small history by the two women founders. It's called You had us in stitches.
Although women have changed the face of the clergy since the first were ordained by the Church of England in 1994, male models are still in a majority. Male clerical fascination with silk, plush and jewellery goes back for centuries, although not all are gripped.

Read it here.

The Telegraph also has "More teal vicar? with more photos.

I don't know that anyone means to be saying that women in the clergy have caused the growth of clergy in fancy dress. You're free to jump on that question, and whether there's chauvinism behind it.

I do have two other questions which I do hope you will engage with:

1. Clergy fashion is not just about vestments. Have designers succeeded in providing women clergy alternatives to dressing like their male counterparts (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

2. About vestments, are we experiencing the 1980s of fashion design?

Comments (10)

A bit silly. Not necessary and a bit vain? How do you explain 'fashion' to the poor who shop at the Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift stores? How bout the Armed Services take up fashion and explore new and varied uniforms on "the catwalk"? Keep the clergy in their approps colors and styles and save the 'fashion' for their 'civies'

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I'm not usually at a loss for words, but I just don't understand. My liturgy teacher instilled a respect for functionality with regard to modes of dress. So a clerical outfit is a uniform, is it not? So why the flair?

Torey Lightcap

Some of that stuff is so stylish it makes me want to be ordained just so I can wear it.

Erik Campano

On the clergywear issue, Henry Ford was right: Any color as long as it's black.

We (Diocese of Missouri) just had a show of the works of our local designer, Jeff Wunrow (you may have seen him at Convention). Stunning, beautiful, stylish, yet liturgically correct and reverent. Is there a rule against praising the Lord in beauty (consider the lilies of the field, after all), does that not also lift us along with the words and the acts? (I regret that I have no pictures to show nor remember Jeff's url).

Well, a pix is worth a thousand words!

I was ready to diss the entire idea until I clicked on the Telegraph link and took a look. Awesome! I'm sold!

The four photos are wonderful and tasteful. And after all, aren't we TRYING to be more attractive to our mission field here in the West?

Kevin McGrane

Still no pictures of my own, alas, but the url is (unsurprisingly)

Fashion gets a bad rap given the craziness that comes from the catwalks. Fashion at its base is what we wear and what it ways about us.

So a uniform is fashion of a kind. And uniforms of all types have changed with changing styles over the centuries.

I wear black-and-white all the time because it communicates "clergy" to the population I serve (college students). The cut of the shirt is where I play. What are the cuffs like? How tailored is it? Is there piecing at the waist? Pleats or tucks? Where did it come from as well? Up-cycled thrift finds? Local seamstresses?

We needn't be dour in our attempts to be faithful. We needn't be profligate in our attempts to dress well and interestingly.

- Alice Connor

1) Vanity is an attitude of the heart. One can be just as vain while wearing sackcloth as when wearing designer clothing.

2) Shopping at the Salvation Army does not equal not buying fashionable/designer clothing.

3) You know one thing that clergy do not buy from the Salvation Army? Clergy attire.

Clothing is one way that we present ourselves to the world. Clothing sends messages. It is very much worth considering if we are sending a message of disregard for the poor or of an unhealthy attention to our selves. But I think we should not presume that considering what we wear or making informed decisions about how we present ourselves is a bad thing to do. One way to do this is to be open to fashion.

Fashion, like music or architecture or other art forms, changes and develops based on new understandings. I would be interested to know what these designers are trying to say with the clothing they have created.

Laura Toepfer

Silly, shallow, and - if that "chasuble" is any indication - a train wreck. Stick with what you've got in your sacristies and closets.

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