News & Politics

What Happens When the Museum of the Bible Holds a Fashion Show?

Christian rock, Christian Louboutins, and “Hava Nagila.”

Photograph by Evy Mages

Not long after New York Fashion Week ended in September, DC hosted its own high-end sartorial shindig. But this being Washington, we didn’t get a Kardashian in the front row of the Derek Lam show. Instead we were treated to something more reverent: a parade of religious style at the Museum of the Bible.

So how would fashion be defined at a spot dedicated to the world’s most popular book? Might the runway be filled with gray-haired men in Moses robes? Or would things lean more Duggar Family evangelical, with blond tykes in floor-length denim jumpers?

As it turned out when we arrived for the $200-a-ticket fundraiser, it was actually dedicated in part to “biblically inspired couture,” some of it pulled from the museum’s permanent exhibit on the intersection of Christianity and style. With pieces by designers such as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and Givenchy, it all felt more Anna Wintour than Mary Magdalene.

Soon the lights dimmed and Christian rock began to blare. The runway glowed like God creating light in Genesis. Then came a stream of models, in all their ecclesiastical glory.

One sported a black sheath that was screen-printed with the image of a Madonna-and-child frieze. Another came out in thigh-high black boots emblazoned with rhinestone crosses. A third held a suede Bible-shaped clutch by Chanel (which a quick Google search tells me retails for about the same price as a Gutenberg Bible). “Thou shalt wear this with just about anything!” an emcee decreed of one outfit, to great applause. Our favorite was an Old Testament–jazzy jumper that had MAZEL TOV in rhinestones down one side, accompanied by an acrylic handbag with SHALOM! spelled out in sparkly cursive.

The room, filled with well-coiffed ladies wearing—naturally—Christian Louboutins, greeted the proceedings with the sort of high-volume enthusiasm that would never fly in church. When “Hava Nagila” started to play on the speakers, things got a little rowdy, with the audience clapping along.

After the last outfit appeared—an ethereal cape dress covered in angels lounging on clouds—and an instrumental version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” played, attendees headed for the exit. But not before one last sacrosanct ritual: collecting their lip-gloss-filled gift bags.

This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.