catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 17 :: 2005.09.23 — 2005.10.06


Beauty will save the world

What type of work or activities do you participate in involving clothing choices?

I make clothes for myself. I also comb thrift stores for clothes and jewelry. I love a bargain.

I make clothes for other people—wedding ensembles, liturgical
clothing, special occasion garments, daywear for people who have (or
feel they have) "figure issues" and outfits that have been living in
someone's imagination but cannot be found on the rack anywhere. I also
consult with persons who want help in outfitting themselves or changing
their look. I advise on makeup, hair color and haircut choices—the
whole look. I take people shopping, either after a session of advising
or as part of one.

I costume: movies, live theater, shows, bands (for live and video
performances), and Halloween/Mardi Gras costumes. If you can describe
it, I can draw it and build it.

At my own discretion, I do NOT make clothing that I feel is "sleazy"
or demeaning to the wearer or his/her intended audience. I feel God
created us as (among other things) erotic beings—but I am not
interested in the industry
of lust. There are plenty of online boutiques that will sell you a
polyester French maid outfit, complete with ruffled panties. That just
isn't my bag, baby. Sexy is an attitude, and is appropriate in some
measure for adults—but not for children and not for the purpose of
evoking lust—which after all is just an extra-titillating form of
idol-worship, isn't it?

You did some advising work for the band OVERHANG. What were some of
the issues they were dealing with and how did your recommendations seek
to meet their needs and philosophy?

They knew what their music meant, both to themselves and to the
audience to/with whom they were hoping to communicate. They said things
like, "We have apocalyptic themes," and promptly spent an impassioned
45 minutes or so telling me what that meant and, specifically, which
instruments/vocals were doing what to communicate apocalypse. And then
they turned to me and said, "But we don't know what all that looks

I got them also to tell me about each band member's personality, which
was especially fun as the members were all present and could affirm or
veto the others' perceptions about themselves!

And then I drew up a sketch or "cartoon" of ideas—placing all four
(at the time) band members on a stage on an 8.5 × 11 paper with color
and shape ideas of clothing on each of them. We spent about 2 hours
together in the first session; met again to look at my drawing (Joel,
or "Space," in particular disagreed with being put in an orange mesh
shirt. Ah well! We eventually settled on an orange mechanic's
jumpsuit—which later morphed due to availability into a ski jumpsuit);
and then went shopping at a thrift store in an upscale-but-funky part
of town.

They should maybe pay me!

I have also made a "manskirt" for Grant, the lead singer, which he
did of course pay me handsomely for. It was long and dark and buckled
at the side with nylon straps and plastic backpack buckles. I think he
planned to wear it when the band played the mainstage at the
Cornerstone Festival last year—but he may have chickened out and
settled for leather pants or something instead. Mind you, it makes
quite a statement—and takes a fair amount of cojones—to wear leather pants, even as a rock star!

How would you describe your personal style? What values affect your
decision-making regarding clothing, hair, make-up, accessories, etc.?
How does aesthetic value intersect with practical value or monetary
value in your wardrobe?

I have pink hair! I dye it myself every three weeks or so with an
African-American burgundy dye that is low-ammonia, low-peroxide and
extra-gentle on the hair cuticle. For upkeep, I use an excellent
shampoo and conditioner that were formulated specifically for fine hair
colored in the red family. I also use a leave-in conditioner and do
deep conditioning once a week or so. And I design my hair with my own
scissors and clippers.

This whole process exemplifies my approach to style: Find out what
you love, and then find out how to wear it. And do it cheaply, if
possible—there are so many things that need our money, not least of
which is the church and the hurricane victims.

You should do what you love, very intentionally. And you should do it
responsibly. This brings glory to God. I am stopped on the street all
the time by people who find my hair blesses them! My hair! Which I
color because I love it! But then, love is the best motivation, isn't
it?  God has a relationship to us for the simple reason that God
loves us. I feel very strongly that we should imitate our Creator in
this way.

Not everyone can cut or color his or her own hair. We must each do
what we are able, and seek to live humbly and responsibly in all we do.
Myself, I can't cook—so I try to buy food cheaply, eat with people who
can cook, attend potlucks instead of eating out (I bring wine or

What people, events, experiences, etc. shaped your knowledge of your
personal style and your vocational passion for cultivating a godly

My daddy always said of dressing, "Less is more." When I create
complicated silhouettes, with drapey sleeves or decorative buckles, I
remember this and am always careful (a) not to overdo it and (b) to use
only defensible details. Of course, "it looks so cool that way" is
certainly defensible!

Daddy also said, "When you're going out with people, take all the
time you need to get ready—so that you can forget yourself and focus
on the other person[s]." To me, this means: do what you have to to feel
pretty/handsome. When you feel cute, it's a lot like wearing black lace
underwear—you give off your own private extra sparkle, and no one but
you knows where it's coming from! (Men, if you haven't worn a black
lace something sometime, I pity you.) And then you really don't have to
expend energy worrying about yourself; you really can focus on loving
the people you're with—for whom Jesus died, after all.

And I think everyone should feel beautiful in his or her clothing.
We are all God's children, fallen or otherwise, and the love of God is
so encompassing. GOD sees us as beautiful and who am I to call God a
liar?? Furthermore, the sexiest woman I have ever seen probably weighed
close to 300 pounds, but wow, was she beautiful. Masses of shiny curls
piled on top of her head, masses of breast, perfectly proportional to
all the rest of her—and she knew her colors and she wore them well, in
gorgeous long flowing silhouettes. And she carried herself with such
confidence! That is the most attractive thing of all in anyone—lack of
fear, full of beauty. That inner spark is such a lovely thing. It says,
I am loved by God, and so I can afford to love you.

What questions should someone be asking who is seeking to cultivate a personal aesthetic reflective of a faith life?

WHO IS GOD? This is the most important thing any Christian can
seek—well, for that matter, that any person of faith can seek. Seek to
know God. How has God revealed Godself—in me, in the world around me,
in Scripture, in Jesus.

This can be a hard search fraught with setbacks and danger—Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs (see On the Road and Naked Lunch,
respectively), for instance, seem to have done terrible damage to their
psyches (and bodies) looking for the real and the holy in tons of sex
and South American drugs. Solomon, some time earlier, with his thousand
wives and his pursuit of all things worth knowing, seems in
Ecclesiastes to have ended up with aches, pains, sorrows and a
truckload of regret.

I think the best way to know God is to seek Jesus—mostly through
the pages of Scripture, and in long-term membership in a church. How to
evaluate churches for worthiness, non-scariness and kindness is another
article altogether—but knowing God in community is crucial.

Because what I think you will come to is that GOD IS LOVE. And love
is joy. And joy is fun. And love makes even hard choices (like moving
to Chicago when all I ever wanted in a city I found in Los Angeles)
"taste" and feel good to one's inner senses—love prompts right
choices, which ring like struck crystal in the heart, with echoes that
never completely die away.

Is there a creational norm for clothing our bodies? How can the biblical narrative inform a perspective on clothing?

I think the biblical narrative, sparse as it is, mostly provides
examples of how not to dress. Don't be Jezebel, who painted her eyes to
attract men and defy God. Don't cut your hair if you've taken a vow as
a Nazirite (not so likely in the 21st century). Though the Proverbs 31
lady—and some of the psalms about princesses and brides—and perhaps
Esther give some idea of the very great leeway that seems to be
permitted to people of faith in adorning themselves with beautiful
jewels and clothing and scents and hairstyles.

It is important, I think, to discern the reasons for Scripture's
injunctions. "You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead
or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:28). And yet
Paul tells us, "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are
beneficial. "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated
by anything" (1 Corinthians 6:12). In everything, I must ask: 
will this bring glory to God? Will this lift my heart to God? Will it
lift other people's hearts to God?

It is a fine balance between freedom in Christ and responsibility to
our sisters and brothers. Strive to be free. Strive to be submitted to

Not so incidentally, I have a tattoo scribed around my left wrist in
18th-century Russian icon calligraphy (designed by me). It is a quote
from Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot,
and (in Russian) it reads, "Beauty will save the world." The Orthodox
are known to preach on this quote as being the beauty of God, the
All-Beautiful, in whom all beauty finds its source.

This is my philosophy of fashion. Beauty finds its source in God.
And so all of God's children can be beautiful, and should have at least
the opportunity, if they want it, to feel beautiful in their own
clothing. And so I make clothes.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus