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Arts & Culture

Leave Room For Jesus In The September Issue: Religion In Vogue

A colorful beaded top on a mannequin featuring the image of Mary and a cross above.
Courtesy of Lynn Neal
A beaded top by Versace

How did images of Jesus end up on our clothes? Historian Lynn Neal aims to answer that question in her latest book “Religion in Vogue: Christianity and Fashion in America” (NYU Press/2019).

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Credit Courtesy of Chapelle Notre-Dame de Compassion, Paris
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Courtesy of Chapelle Notre-Dame de Compassion, Paris
A Statuary vestment for the Virgin of El Rocio on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 2018 fashion exhibit centered on Catholic symbolism and tradition.

She studied issues of Vogue magazine from the early 20th century to today to understand how religious iconography has shaped fashion throughout the ages. Neal’s book largely looks at Christianity’s influence on fashion, though she alludes to other religions as well. Clothing is not necessarily a transparent look at someone’s identity, Neal says, but a performative piece of their personality.

This is why we may see people wearing cross jewelry or T-shirts with a cartoon image of Jesus even if they are not religious. Neal, a professor of religion at Wake Forest University, joins host Frank Stasio live at the Triad Stage to talk about how we wear Christianity and what role it may play in wardrobes of the future. 

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