London Fashion Week: Julien Macdonald cathedral fashion show criticised as ‘antithesis of Christian gospel’

Olivia Petter
AFP/Getty Images

Southwark Cathedral has been accused of promoting superficial values after it hosted designer Julien Macdonald’s London Fashion Week show.

The event, held to showcase Macdonald’s spring/summer 2020 collection, was attended by a number of celebrities, including Lady Victoria Hervey and Gossip Girl actor Ed Westwick.

The clothes themselves were a mix of glitzy party ensembles, including tassel mini dresses, sequin gowns with plunging necklines and elegant swimwear.

While the show received was well-received by the fashion pack, a leading Anglican clergyman has criticised the cathedral for for “giving a platform” to what he described as “a narcissistic self-referential display for the very rich”.

Macdonald’s celebrity fans include Kylie Jenner, Mariah Carey and Bella Hadid. Price-wise, his gowns average around £5,000.

Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen who was ordained at Southwark Cathedral, told The Daily Telegraph that while it’s “no bad thing” for the cathedral to “build a bridge between secular society and the Christian church”, it should “think twice” about hosting fashion shows.

Ashenden continued: “The problem comes comes when the ethical content of what they are trying to host is in direct contradiction to Christian values.

“The cathedral should ask itself to see if the complaints about the fashion industry – as promoting a narcissistic self referential display for the very rich – is indeed conducive with the values of the Christian gospel.”

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Ashenden went on to describe the fashion industry as “the antithesis of the Christian gospel”.

“It’s about the exposure of the poverty of our souls and that’s about hiding the state of the soul in an excess of glamour,” he added.

“A cathedral ought to think twice before it provides a platform to a cultural venture like this.”

A spokesperson for Southwark Cathedral told The Independent that it was “pleased” to be asked to work with Macdonald.

“His show brought many people into the cathedral who might not otherwise have come, and many recognised it as a beautiful and special place,” they said, adding tha the show was "delivered in a professional, respectful and energetic way".

The statement continued: "Fashion and its impact on the environment, how we use clothes as part of daily life and what clothing is appropriate are important issues for Christians and others to engage with as aspects of modern living. Southwark Cathedral is used for many events and the Cathedral and the rooms associated with the Cathedral have been available for hire since c2000 when the Millennium buildings were built.

"The money generated by the hiring of the building is used towards the upkeep of the building, the costs of worship and music and enables the Cathedral to be open to the public free of charge."

The Independent has contacted Julien Macdonald for comment.