It used to be that everybody had a gimmick. Now everybody has a message. In an era when Madonna, whose namesake is already a religious icon, has become almost synonymous with The Kaballah, you've got to wonder if all the stylish people really know why. Everybody seems to have gotten the message about the trend towards enlightenment - - - but does anyone know what it all means? It's important to take a look at why you're sporting your bindi, cross, Mehndi Art, or fill in the spiritual blank. Support your style choice with substance or you're likely to fall off the alter.
Know what you represent. Many of the accessories du saison that have a spiritual base and hold deep meaning in certain cultures are available in some form or another at Urban Outfitters in huge bins. As far as trends go, the religious wave is much easier on the eyes than the en masse shaved head craze for girls ever was. The fashionable golden rule frenzy is also a nice influential break from the enterprising '80s: A time when the super-runway-models put pins in each other's shoes to thwart catwalk competition. Even Sinead O' Conner, the pop queen of shaved heads (and once famous for tearing up the Pope's image on national television), has joined the praise scene. The millennium countdown has begun and God is in the air. Everyday Icons have found their way into everyday closets.
The best message of the season, combining all of today's messages in one big stew pot and dishing up one, is that dancing to the beat of your own spiritual style drum is the only way to truly bust a move.
Moroccan designer Claude Sabbah sets a clear example. We went chez Sabbah (eerily read Sabbath) to watch his debut collection on his VCR. We were there all afternoon, and spent more time talking about spiritual journeys and the link between creativity and listening to the God within, than his clothes, which are a religious experience unto themselves. His clothing is all about purity through self expression, and he delivers a beautiful vibe...
Styling note: The spiritually colorful Moroccan Sufi backdrop of the film Hideous Kinky is your motion picture guide in living color to this summer's fabric shopping tone.
Prayer beads, found along the journey from Tibet to India and throughout Muslim culture, are finding their way to many a fashionable western wrist and neckline. A soothing meditation tool, each bead represents a link of a mantric chant and counting them one at a time leads the way through an entire prayer. Traditionally worn on the left wrist and made from wood or stone, those with beads that are especially worn down, are thought of as having heightened spirituality. The basic crux is about tangible representation of the intangible while maintaining support of your own beliefs - no matter how far away their geographic roots may be. Offshoots include color therapy bracelets and the booming aromatherapy markets. Stay tuned for more fragrant candles on the home fashion front - but made from natural beeswax and soybean bases - rather than paraffin.
Fashion is forever reflecting pop culture. Teen scenes sport WWJD bracelets as reminders to tow the line and stay on the light path. (What Would Jesus Do?) The idea is that if you are getting swayed by the devil to do something devilish, you look at your bracelet, key chain, T-shirt, or guitar pick and think about it twice first. Whether you're down with the Born Again scene or not, now is your golden opportunity to incorporate your Hooked on Jesus T-shirt into your summer wardrobe.
Music - the other style monitor (and not all entirely on poor Madonna's shoulders) is sending us some heavy clues. Evangelistic rock is taking over the airwaves including a heavy repetition of the rap version of Jesus is Just All Right...and the satellite TV circuit is giving the core of hard workin' preachers a platform and a half. A seemingly sudden explosion, it ain't new. Oral Roberts anybody? Evangelism is one path to stardom, and Hollywood is full of it. Rene Russo and Kathy Ireland are more famous for their on-set negotiations with The Lord than for their acting achievements. And then there's John Travolta...