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Catwalk in the Abbey ruffles feathers

10 June 2016


New vestiture? Models present creations from Gucci at the show in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey

New vestiture? Models present creations from Gucci at the show in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey

ALTHOUGH Westminster Abbey is no stranger to elaborate robes or fine­­ly crafted headgear, it took a peacock-adorned silk cheongsam, knit­ted sweater emblazoned with a halo-crowned cat, and a scarlet fur jacket teamed with turquoise head­scarf to get its cloisters packed with fashion’s elite.

Reviews of Alessandro Michele’s pre-spring/summer 2017 Gucci show, held last week at the Abbey, were glowing. "A smorgasbord of colour and frivolity," Vogue reported. The Guardian deemed it "glorious, charming, surreal".

The designer described his show as a "homage" to London. He chose the Abbey "because everyone has this idea of London being cool, but for me the history is what’s really cool".

Not everybody agreed with the partnership, however. The Priest-in-Charge of St Mary’s, Glynde, West Firle and Beddingham, the Revd Peter Owen-Jones, likened it to "selling our soul for a pair of trousers".

"I can think of no other reason the Church is doing this other than money, and that confuses what the Church should stand for," he told The Daily Telegraph.

The animal-rights organisation PETA wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and urged him not to allow "exotic skins" on the catwalk. "Slaughtering animals for vanity is in no way compatible with the Church’s message of kindness and compassion, its director, Mimi Bekhechi, said.

A spokesperson for the Abbey described the response as "over­whelm­ingly positive", and said that the show had been "a new and exciting collaboration for us".

Reporters noted that the Queen was an obvious inspiration for the collec­tion. Among the models traversing the stone walkway was one dressed in quilted jacket, kilt, and headscarf.

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