ICOM International Committee for Museums and Collections of Costume, Fashion and Textiles

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December 16, 2023

Fashion for God Exhibition – Reuse in religious and secular dress Symposium. 11 & 12 January at Museum Catharijneconvent. Utrech Antwerp Conference

Fashion for God exhibition.
Until January 21th at Catharijneconvent Museum.

An unprecedented experience full of opulent fashion fabrics, dazzling embroidery and luxurious high fashion from the Renaissance and Baroque. You can wander through halls full of richly decorated coats and lavishly floral ball gowns. Discover the special story behind these precious robes in which women play the leading role. And what does a ball gown do next to church robes?

Go back to the Republic of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. After the Reformation, Catholics were no longer allowed to meet in public. Behind the closed doors of secret churches, they pull out all the stops to propagate their faith.

The pastors wore ‘fashion for god’; the way to radiate one’s own identity in times of oppression. The most beautiful specimens shine at this long-awaited exhibition. Most of it can be seen without glass, a unique opportunity to admire these works of art in detail.

Reuse in Religious and Secular Dress Symposium. January 11 & 12.

With Dutch catholic vestments as a starting point, a wide variety of papers will provide an international context of ecclesiastical vestments and practices in other European countries and also expand our views into the world of secular fashion to discover parallels in both worlds.

Over the centuries vestments were very prominent and precious objects in the catholic liturgy and were produced with the utmost reverence, artisticity and skill. They were used and cherished at the same time, and typically had multiple lives as they were repaired, reused and sometimes repurposed. In the seventeenth century Dutch Republic, reuse of fragments and material was common, and reuse of past styles and iconographies created a holdfast for Catholics who harkened back to their glorious undisputed hegemony. In the eighteenth century, religious vestments were commonly sourced from ladies’ dresses. Donated to church these fashionable silk fabrics changed from the secular to the ecclesiastical realm and thus became a colourful centre at the altar.

The symposium will take place at Museum Catharijneconvent on 11 and 12 January 2024 and coincides with the exhibition Fashion for God on religious vestments from Dutch hidden churches from 1580 to 1800, which runs until 21 January 2024.

For more information click here.

All pictures credit by Cindy Bakker except picture 1 by Rianne Tegelaar.