Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sheer Strength of Fashion

Recently, I came across an item in the Women’s Wear Daily blog, announcing the fashion trend for this upcoming holiday season: sheer fabrics.  I took a look at the mostly black and uninspiring isolated images of clothing and accessories, enjoyed the Betsy Johnson dress, surprisingly (her work is not generally my favorite), but was otherwise, unimpressed with the offerings.
So I filed away the information among my mental fashion flotsam. Until today.
Today, this painting, Saint Michael the Archangel, by Ignacio de Ries from the 1600s in the European collection of the Met, caught my eye.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen, or at least ever noticed, an angel dressed in sheer fabric before!
Looking around for some more images of Saint Michael, I found that despite being a warrior, he was often depicted as having some magical chest covering which allowed the details of his skin beneath it to be seen (most notably, his belly button which even shows in this cartoonish illustration). Just look at how he casts out satan with nary a ruffle to his magnificent wings!
This Michael is an astonishingly popular character across many religions. I can’t help but think some of that popularity was due to his fashion forward sense, or that of his brilliant stylists.

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