Why? Because Anna Wintour and I are the same age. What?
Seriously, I used to work in 'fashion' - or thought I did. I worked in display at a well known department store which no longer exists. Being involved with anything associated with fashion, ready-to-wear and or couture, carries with it an ambience of prestige. From the very top of the industry down to the lowly mannequin dresser. Fashion creates a mystique in every age. It is frequently a sign of wealth and grandeur, as well as prominence and taste. It is for the elite - or that is what those who 'work it' need to convince themselves and their clientele of. No one is more deluded by that notion than the directors and promoters of the industry. No one basks in the glamour more than those privileged to hob nob in that society.
Martin, Dolan, Clooney
The Devil really does wear Prada.
Carlo Caretto wrote about fashion in his book on the spiritual life, The God Who Comes. I was especially struck by his writing at the beginning of my conversion, when I first left that little bubble of the fashion world which I considered myself an authority on. (LOL!) Caretto wrote: "To begin with, we must go against the ideas of the day, for these are always opposed to the Gospel. We must resist 'the latest fashions and the spirit of the times,' which are almost always influenced by the evil one." Keep that in mind the next time you page through a fashion magazine or tune in to most any Red Carpet photo shoot.
It is also good to recall what St. Jacinta Marto had to say about fashion and the Church: "Fashions that will greatly offend Our Lord will appear. People who serve God should not follow fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same." Elsewhere is another quote from the saint on the subject: "Many fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much - do not follow fashion." That was in 1918.
Former Abbot Fioraso
Before the Met Gala - Friends of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme...
Several years ago, Pope Benedict shut down the playboy mansion style Abbey of Santa Croce in Rome. The abbot of Santa Croce was "Simone Fioraso, a flamboyant former Milan fashion designer, who had bee already moved out of the basilica two years" before to abbey was suppressed. I have no idea what happened to him or if he remains a priest today. The fashionable Friends of Santa Croce were entertained in the cloister-refectory, a classic sign of decadence as depicted in the art and filmography of life in the great abbeys of history. "The basilica had become a hub for the Friends of Santa Croce, an aristocratic group, and had been criticized for some unorthodox practises including dances in which nuns pranced around the altar."
Fundraising is easily corrupted when Cardinals, Bishops, Abbots, monks and priests adopt an entrepreneurial spirit to obtain donations and support for their lavish residences and lifestyles. Know what I'm saying? Religious people just do not want to acknowledge that, and whenever anyone, even a Pope points out the corrupting influence of worldliness, money and prestige, they turn on him and anyone else who dares to question their involvement.
Dance at Santa Croce
"How ought Catholics to receive the Met Gala and its supposed sacrilege."
So asks America magazine. First - Catholics can and do receive, reject, and opine about the Met Gala any way they want to. Some see it as decadent and sacrilegious, others see it as a sort of abomination and one comment I came across likened it to the scene in the Book of Daniel asking: "Did the Met guests happen to notice a hand writing on the wall?" That was a wonderful comment.
The America magazine coverage of the event is trending and cool and superficial. Justin Shaun Coyne's opinion piece was naive and condescending, with a ridiculous connection to the passion of Christ, expounding upon his hypothetical question, "What has Golgatha have to do with the Met?" It's a smart article, but it misses.
The Gala and the exhibit are two different things. Society ladies and their escorts will attend an 'opening of a door' as Nan Kempner once famously stated, and so will society clergymen. The exhibit is just okay, in my opinion - a wonderful opportunity to see examples of real couture and the very best in religious vestments. The connection between fashion and sacred vestment is a great commercial idea, especially today when the rich and famous love to accessorize their own homes with religious artifacts and textiles, often deaccesioned and/or ransacked from Catholic monasteries and churches and their treasuries. The Gala is what it is - kind of a joke played by the fashion world on the Church. The exhibit is a marketing strategy.
Prelates and priests have always hob-nobbed with society types. Prelates and priests and religious have always scandalized the faithful, especially the poor and the marginalized and humble. That's what they did at the Met Gala. Closing churches and selling off church goods is a lucrative market these days.
So yeah, as America Magazine's Justin Shaun Coyle observes: "Maybe it constitutes sacrilege after all. But it might remind Catholics that our aesthetic positively thrums with apocalyptic irony ..."
"Apocalyptic irony" indeed.