Clotheslines by Marylou Luther

      Q Dear Marylou:  I watched photos of the Met Gala and marveled at Katy Perry’s wings and Jared Leto’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and now I’m wondering what the real impact of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition, “Heavenly Bodies and the Catholic Imagination”, has to say about religion’s impact on fashion.  Any ideas?__H.Y., Cleveland, OH.


 Jean-Charles de Castelbajac pope illustration




Dear H.Y.:  Yes, Great question!!  Several leading designers showed fall designs obviously inspired by religion.—especially Dolce & Gabbana, where the Virgin Mary as presented as a fashion goddess.  So you could say “fashion gets religion”.  Or you could be a cynic and say fashion got religion because designers knew about the upcoming Costume Institute theme.
  Whatever the cause, to me the real effect of the exhibition is seen in the vestments and robes actually worn by popes and cardinals, bishops and priests, nuns and acolytes—the clerical “robes” that impacted everyday clothes.  My big applause goes to French fashion legend Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who actually dressed a pope (John Paul II aka Jean-Paul II) as well as 5,000 priests and 500 bishops for the 1997 papal visit to France.  De Castelbajac’s illustration here is the vestment he made for that pope.  It will be on display at the Met until October 8.
   In addition to his papal designs,  De Castelbajac pioneered Snooky and Mickey Mouse as fashion heroes and made coats out of teddy bears.  His artistry continues without an amen.


             illustration by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac






     Q  Dear Marylou:  How do you describe Rei Kawakubo’s aesthetic for Comme des Garcons?  Who really wears her clothes?  To me, they look like they were created for some nonexistent other-worldly creature.___A M.S., Kansas City, MO.  

       Dear A.M.S.:   Rei Kawakubo is, to me, an artist, an instigator, an innovator, a disruptor who just happens to work in the field of clothing and accessories.  My favorite quote about the so-called fashion intellectuals who wear her clothes comes from Marion Hume, who wrote in London’s The Independent:  “They are for the woman who hums Hans Werner Henze when she is doing the dishes.


     Q  Dear Marylou:  Who was the first to say less is more?  To me, it’s the mantra of minimalism, but I don’t know where it started. ___ E.F., New York, NY.

       Dear E.F.:   It started with Robert Browning’s poem, “Andrea del Sarto” (1855), where the subject tells his wife that other painters strive to attain his technical perfections.  “Yet do much less, so much less.”  But then comes the realization that “Well, less is more, Lucrezia.”  The phrase was adopted by the architect Luidwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1889-1969) as a precept for minimalist design.




  (Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column, but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to


 ©2018, International Fashion Syndicate


      Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, writes the  award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature read weekly by more than 5 million.

   In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a non-profit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields.  Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-seeing/reading for industry leaders. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

   The former fashion editor of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register is biographied in “Who’s Who in America.”  She won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s coveted Eugenia Sheppard  award for fashion journalism, the Women in Communications award and, in 2004, the Accessories Council’s Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism, which will be given every year in her name.

  Her essays have appeared in “The Rudi Gernreich Book”, “Thierry Mugler: Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy”, “The Color of Fashion”, “Todd Oldham Without Boundaries” and “Yeohlee: Work.” A book with Geoffrey Beene was published in September, 2005. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, where she received the prestigious Alumni Achievement award, Luther is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha, Theta Sigma Phi and Gamma Phi Beta.