216 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 17 color photos
- Published: August 2020
What is fashion? Where does it come from? Why has it come to permeate modern life?
In the last half century, questions like these have drawn serious academic reflection, resulting in a new field of research—fashion studies—and generating a rich multidisciplinary discussion. Yet theology’s voice has been conspicuously absent in this conversation. The time has finally come for theology to break her silence and join this decades-long conversation.
Fashion Theology is the first of its kind: a serious and long-overdue account of the dynamic relationship between theology and fashion. Chronicling the epic journey from ancient Christian sources to current developments in fashion studies, cultural theologian Robert Covolo navigates the rich history of Christian thought as well as recent political, social, aesthetic, literary, and performance theory. Far from mere disparity or quick resolution, Covolo demonstrates that fashion and theology inhabit a mutual terrain that has, until recently, scarcely been imagined.
Covolo retraces the way theologians have taken up fashion across history, unveiling how Christian thinkers have been fascinated with fashion well before the academy’s current focus, and bringing these insights into the conversation with fashion itself: the logic by which fashion operates, how fashion shapes our world, and the way fashion imperceptibly molds our personal lives. Within fashion’s realms reside some of life’s greatest challenges: the foundations of political power, the basis for social order, the nature of aesthetics, how we inhabit time, and the means by which we tell stories about our lives—challenges, it turns out, that theologians also explore.
Fashion favors the bold; theology demands humility. Holding the two together, Fashion Theology trailblazes an interdisciplinary path informed by a thoughtful engagement with the Christian witness. For those traversing this spectacle of unexpected crossroads and hotly contested terrain, the promise of fashion theology awaits with its myriad unexplored vistas.
1 Fashion Theology as Tradition
+1 No Hairdos in Heaven
+2 Stealing from the Egyptians
+3 A Certain Savoir Faire
2 Fashion Theology as Reform
+1 An Unlikely Ally
+2 Not Those French!
+3 The King of Fashion
3 Fashion Theology as Public Discourse
+1 Top-Down or Bottom-Up
+2 Two Spaces Collude
+3 Micro, Mezzo, Macro
4 Fashion Theology as Art
+1 You Call That Art?!
+2 Fashioning the Catholic Imagination
+3 Re/Forming the Art of Fashion
5 Fashion Theology as Everyday Drama
+1 Life in the New-Now
+2 The Stories We Wear
+3 A Fitting Performance
In Fashion Theology, Covolo takes on the ambitious challenge of charting the parallel paths of these seemingly disparate domains—one inviting consumption and the other evoking contemplation. Undoubtedly, for scholars and faith practitioners alike who sit at the intersection between these two disciplines, Covolo’s monograph is a welcome contribution to the field of fashion studies. It is a critical, foundational text from which future scholarship on related topics will find validation and legitimacy, and from which, I hope, new discourses and domains of knowledge will emerge in the context of Fashion Theory.~Fiona Dieffenbacher, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design, Parsons School of Design, The New School
Fashion Theology is a highly original book that sheds a theological light on the field of fashion studies while also bringing questions of fashion into the realm of theology. Challenging the reader’s preconceptions, this elegantly written book refreshingly recasts a Reformed perspective on fashion as joyful and festive. Firmly situating his research in biblical and theological discourses, Covolo argues for a playful display of fashion that moves everyday life from monotony to conviviality.~Anneke Smelik, Professor of Visual Culture, Radboud University
Robert Covolo’s Fashion Theology represents a unique and compelling advance in the understanding of a hitherto neglected, if not actually unnoticed, aspect of fashion and fashion theory—their relation to past and present Christian theology. It will undoubtedly transform fashion studies and have considerable influence on the study of the relation between fashion and theology for many years to come. Covolo’s thinking here is profound, clear and conceptually nuanced; his engaging writing style draws one into the arguments with precision, erudition, and, when required, a refreshing but entirely appropriate sense of humor.~Malcolm Barnard, Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture, Loughborough University