Swapping the pulpit for the catwalk
A FORMER fashion designer-turned-curate from Soundwell will model the latest in ecclesiastical clothing at Clergy on the Catwalk next week.
The event, part of the Christian Resources Exhibition West, which is to be held at the University of the West of England, gives men and women of the cloth the chance to catch up with the latest in ecclesiastical fashions.
Organisers appealed in The Post for an actual vicar, minister or priest to come forward to strut their stuff on the catwalk, and five came forward – including Rev Julia Chard, who studied art and design at what was then Bristol Art College at Bower Ashton.
"I trained and worked as a fashion designer," she said. "My first job was designing lingerie at a company in Bristol where I was taught the art of fitting undergarments."
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She designed and made her own clerical shirts for her ordination as priest in 2012. She is now curate at St.Stephen's, Soundwell.
"My ordination stole describes my faith journey – seeking purpose through personal loss and the transformation by the healing hope of the sign of the cross," she said.
Julia said current clerical designs can be old-fashioned and uncomfortable.
"I think some blouse patterns had been made from men's shirts with darts inserted into them," she said.
Designer Juliet Hemingray, whose creations Julia will be modelling, believes women clergy have brought a fresh look to clerical clothing.
"They won't put up with worn-out robes," said Juliet, of Church Textiles in Derby. "This has then been picked up by male clergy too."
Open to the general public, the event, dubbed the "ideal church show", comes to Bristol for the first time on January 23-24.
To be offically opened by the vicar of Christ Church, Clifton, Rev Paul Langham, it will feature more than 170 charities, missions and church suppliers displaying everything from heating systems to evangelistic puppets, lighting to pilgrimages, candles to computers.
A series of carefully-targeted seminars, given by both regional and national experts, will cover issues of concern to some 3,000 local church leaders and members expected to attend, from bishops to parish magazine editors.