Many a famous creative throughout history has been fascinated with religious themes. From Michelangelo to Madonna, symphonies to street art, there seems to be an ongoing love affair between organized religion and creative inspiration. In western culture, the desire to explore Christian figures and stories in an artistic way seems to be especially prevalent, as we can see with Metropolis’ collection: Amen.
In typical Metropolis fashion, the looks presented in this collection are completely over-the-top. They defy gravity and push boundaries that we didn’t even know existed before. Inspired by the “act of prayer to the father, son and holy ghost,” according to the artist, Robert Masciave, the collection reflects a non-believer’s perspective on how to represent each, visually.
Translating these concepts into achievable looks took about three weeks total and a lot of re-imagining how these identities could be portrayed. Traditionally, the Christian God the Father is thought of as a male figure with a flowing white beard. In Masciave’s version, however, “…the look had to represent power and strength, so the minotaur horns emulate this perfectly well.” This choice is a curious one, considering that horns are typically shown on a religious figure with a decidedly more sinister character. The interpretation of Jesus Christ is a little more literal, focusing on a “distorted version” of the crown of thorns.
Much like Gaultier’s Spring/Summer 2007 runway show, or Sarah Barton’s Autumn/Winter 2013 collection for Alexander McQueen, influences from traditional depictions of religious figures provide the basis of inspiration and the vehicle of artistic exploration in Amen. The most immediate and striking difference between Masciave’s collection and the scores of designers and artists that have incorporated sacred imagery and influence into their work is that Amen focuses on traditionally male figures, being depicted by women. With the exception of Roberto Tisci’s work for Givenchy, much of the religious fascination in fashion has been with the Virgin Mary or elaborate vestments worn by the clergy.
Masciave’s favorite look from the collection is the depiction of the Father. He explains:
I am particularly proud of the look with the horns because at the time it was never seen before and I took the courage to do it…partly because I thought is was a fun idea and I didn’t care about people’s opinion. The look works aesthetically. It became so popular that I was asked to do it at London Fashion Week. It reminds me of my state of mind at the time—I don’t care, I do what I want.
Much discussion has been had on whether the use of religious iconography in art and fashion is intended to show the inspirational nature of faith, with the resulting works being made in tribute, or perhaps, more cynically, as a way to drum up controversy. It is impossible to make a sweeping assessment as there are so many figures in fashion, beauty and the art world that have chosen a facet or two of theology as a focus for their work, with some being more deft than others. In the case of Amen, however, Masciave seems to genuinely want to explore the traditional identities of the pivotal figures in Christianity, and by proxy, our fascination with them.
Hair: Robert Masciave
Make Up: Bea Sweet
Fashion Styling: Rachel Freire
Photography: David Alexandre
*Runway photos courtesy of Style.com