A bitter row has erupted after a fashion show featuring satanic designs was held at a historic church. Leading clerics branded the event ‘blasphemous’ after models dressed as devils and vampires sashayed in front of the altar. The show, part of London Fashion Week, was highlighting the work of controversial Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu, whose creations have been worn by celebrities including singer Rihanna.
Against a backdrop of demonic images, heavily made-up models wearing horns or displaying upside-down crosses paraded down the aisle-turned-catwalk of St Andrew Holborn church in Central London last week. Ms Findikoglu, who has been described as an ‘up-and-coming rebel of the fashion world’, told Vogue magazine earlier this month of her fascination with the occult and magic.
But the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said the satanic aspect of the show was ‘not acceptable’ and could lead people ‘to areas where we don’t want them to go.’
He said: ‘Christians will be outraged. This was not necessary to do. In the sense that Christ’s name is being dishonored, it is blasphemous.’ The bishop said the general rule was that churches should not do anything that ‘dishonours Christ or contradicts the Christian faith’.
‘That’s the rule of thumb that they should follow. They have to be very discerning about that,’ he added. He questioned whether the church, which has apologized, had exercised proper caution when it took the booking and called for an investigation.
Theologian Dr Adrian Hilton wrote in his Archbishop Cranmer blog: ‘How is it possible that a sacred space can be used for what can only be described as Lucifer lauding? How does hosting a Satanic Fashion Show glorify God?’
The church was founded 1,000 years ago and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Its current vicar is the Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker.
The church said in a statement that it had always supported London Fashion Week. It added: ‘We took this booking in good faith and were not aware of the content or design before the show took place. This was obviously a mistake, and the content of this show does not reflect the Christian faith of the Church. ‘We will be looking at our booking processes to ensure this does not happen again.’
The row follows controversy over the decision by the 900-year-old Wells Cathedral in Somerset to allow the interior to be used for filming the latest Hellboy movie.
But cathedral officials have defended their decision by saying that the film, which features a comic-book superhero and a plot involving the occult, was a classic story of good versus evil.