Ashley Baxstrom: The Devil may wear Prada, but that doesn’t mean he owns the market on being fashionably faithy.
Check out the hot new line debuting over at the Community of Compassion, a new Anglican Catholic order in Forth Worth, Texas. When Mother Mary Magdalene, founder of the order, needed help designing new habits – because foundresses are required to design unique new habits for their new orders – she turned to artist Julia Sherman for help, and the result was something new and, in a slightly discomfiting way, a little sexy.
If you’re going to be married to Jesus, you want to look good AND be comfortable, amIright? Mother Mary had just three requests: modest, natural and snazzy. But what’s really special about the line is that the sisters won’t be the only ones wearing them: Sherman has partnered up with JF & Son in New York to sell the outfits to secular customers. Habits – they’re not just for nuns anymore!
Of course, the store hasn’t taken a vow of poverty, so the un-anointed have a to pay a hefty price. First, for the pieces, which cost anywhere from about $200-$500. And secondly, Mother Mary had a word of caution about wearing the habit in public:
Bear in mind we consider wearing the habit to be a privilege. It says to others when in public, I am open for business. May I pray for you, comfort you, and serve you? It’s a caring symbol in a difficult world.
Buyer beware! But my concerns aren’t limited to mistaking a shift-wearing New York fashion blogger for a nun. I have questions about where the proceeds from sales would go, but according to this New York Times magazine article (which appears to be the first story on the topic, before the previously-cited blogs), a portion will go to the order; the actual habits for the nuns were donated by the store. So that’s nice. But I still wonder why they think there will be enough popular interest to support a line for lay people. Is there something forbidden about it, or about paying so much for it? Will wearers somehow feel closer to God by emulating the order in this way?
And is anybody else weirded out by this pseudo-sexualization of nuns? Not that there aren’t plenty of B-movies out there on just such a topic, I’m sure. And of course the sisters of the Community of Compassion won’t be posing with stalks of wheat in their pouty mouths. But still. There’s some kind of boundary-crossing, line-blurring strangeness to this all that I can’t quite put my finger on.
I totally want that cloak though.
(h/t Jo Piazza)