Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Religion and fashion

Holy Heels

The irony is if you type religion and fashion in to google almost nothing on the topic comes up, yet type in something more descriptive like ‘high heel cross’ and you get a glossy photograph of shoes with cross shaped heels. And this image of the shoe becomes the missing link in to the world where fashion and religion go hand in hand, what is even more interesting that it is not some dodgy, grudgy, emo-gothic subculture but main stream fashion. Almost every mainstream high street clothes retail sold wooden bracelets with Christian themed stickers on them and other accessories with Christian symbols such as the cross.
River Island 'Black Religious Photo Wrist Bands'

It is interesting that not only Christian symbols are used but also Jewish ones, however if the Christian ones get some kind of faith recognition in the name of the product ‘Religious Photo Wrist Bands', the hamsa is called ‘Hand Charm’.
River Island 'Brown Beaded Hand Charm Bracelet'

To find out what the public makes of these images I uploaded the 'Holy Heels' image on to my pinterest account. In a couple of hours the image had 4 likes and 12 repins. Considering that I have only 7 followers on Pinterest most of whom I know and that the people who have repined the image were strangers to me I found this to show the image's popularity. It was interesting to see to where was the image repined. Six people pinned it in to beauty and style, four in to artsy and ‘cute things gone dodgy’, one in to 'churches' and only one in to Faith. So the irony is only one out of 12 people sees the cross as having anything to do with faith and/or worldview, and two out of 12 see it as having anything to do with religion. For the rest the cross is a stylish, exciting, sexy accessory.

I always wonder if  people know that they are wearing an execution device? Maybe I should order a t-shirt with an electric chair?

A. Warhol, Electric Chair, 1971
Or a necklace with a guillotine?

What is it that excites us? Is it because these originally were meant to harm and by wearing them we are domesticating the danger? Or is it the fact that Christian symbols are supposed to have some meaning or a hidden power? After all Da Vinci Code ( hence forth ‘the book that shall not be named’) did prove one thing - that Jesus is still a pop celebrity and any ‘sensationalist’  gossip about him and his sex life will be flying of the shelves. Yet judging by the pintrest re-pins though recognisable the image has nothing to do with its original meaning rather it is more of a symbol of something else: Goth/rock/metal chic. Through images and popular culture the cross, st peter’s cross, and pentagram became mixed together and blended with skulls, dark eye shadows, leather jackets, cigarette smoke and pompous/mournful/no-one-understands- me lyrics. Christian symbols became the identity signs of the sinful saint.

A cross is no longer a celebration of faith it is what you wear on your bra when dancing in high heels looking glamorous and glossy.


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