The Worst Oscar Gowns Ever+A Theology of Fashion?

I’ll miss the Oscars Sunday night. Drat. I’ll be at Bible study, probably feeling spiritually superior, but the truth is, I’ll miss that fascinating parade of beauty, fashion, and faux pas.  

Fashion is a bit of a mystery to me---until I see UGLY, and then I feel so fashion-wise I want to start a line of clothing and offer free makeovers. I'm taking a risk here. I don’t know what your fashion IQ is, (or what your fashion I-Care is), or if you have any interest in the Oscars at all. And in case you're unmoved, or one of the gentlemen who grace my pages, I want to lure you onward with the promise of theology. I'm going to attempt a theology of fashion, which sounds even to me right now, like something of a circus act. 

Because, in truth, I am exhausted. I've been traveling for a week, speaking at a conference, at a university, doing lots of radio, and writing as I go. It has been exhilarating--and I'm so tired I must laugh. Maybe you too? 

So on we go to the entertainment. Which is provided not just by the movies, but the adornment of all those who attend and present at the ceremony. Out of a bevy of possible mishaps and grotesqueries, let me tell you my criteria for this Hall of Infamy. I have carefully chosen only those that made me laugh out loud. I wish you the same. (And please know, I am not sounding a deep, cruel laugh. More like a delighted guffaw. "Really? A highly paid famous stylist thought that was a good idea? Also remember how tired I am . ....)  

(Yes, that is a swan draped around her neck. And Whoopi, I felt surprised, too, when I saw this  .. . ummm, contraption.)

What's most surprising and fun is that all of the women (except for the poor tutu woman) appear oblivious to how silly (or hideous) their outfits really are.  

And here begins my own unexpected theology. Unexpected because these images have taken me somewhere I didn't anticipate.  I don't love their dresses, but I love the women's joy and exuberance in their attire. We have missed this. Entirely. Exuberance is beautiful and contagious and even more fashionable than, well, fashion. May I say this? Dear women and men of God, why don't we take more joy in the delicious colors and fabrics and swing and fall and texture and hue of our clothing? Why do we all dress like sparrows, as if cardinals, wood ducks, and paradise tanagers didn't exist? Not even to mention peacocks (Whoopi's dress?)  By some scientists' estimates,  there are 2,280,000 discernible colors colors shimmering around us. 

                      (photo credit: Vinny Porcella)

And what do I keep buying and wearing?? Black. 
We are too afraid of beauty, too somber in our dress.
Does not even a tree teach us the love of God for brilliant whimsical beauty?  



And who has not seen a hill on fire from a neon sky? 


And who has not seen the glamorous dresses in our back fields?

We waste too much beauty, and hide ourselves under the veil of modesty, missing what color and joy and exuberance we might bring into a dark house, into a sad room, into a long winter. God is a just and holy God, and God is maker of all that is beautiful and bright and light and alive.  

Does He not delight in his own dappled creation--and can we not be part of this beauty-spotted world? 

"Glory to God for dappled things,
        for skies of couple-color 
   and rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim.

For all dresses counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
For all our attire---swift, slow; sweet, sour;
    adazzle, dim;
Let us laugh and sally forth wrapped in God's sizzling          
Praise Him!  And wear a rainbow whenever you can!

With Joy.