WHILE the majority of ancient symbols are rotting inside museum cases, there is one that has perpetuated throughout the centuries. The cross, perhaps the most brutal Roman torture device, has somehow manifested itself as a symbol for all the things it destroys: hope, life, safety, humanity. Even in countries such as our own, where tumbleweed rattles across church floors and the seats are filled with little more than cobwebs, the cross has remained a sacred figure of both tradition and religion.
Christians believe it represents God and therefore has an eternal power... Jeremy Scott thinks it makes a great sunvisor and the little girl in The Exorcist found a completely different use for it...
If trivialised in any way, there will be a little old lady, clutching rosary beads in one hand and a cane in the other, delighted at the opportunity to puke out her response of affected repulsion onto the Teletext. But isn't the original message one of greater outrage?
And yet if the cross is worn as nothing more than a fashion statement (take Madonna circa the '80s for example), it is met with public outcry. On the other hand, Madonna may be a bad example as her deliberate subversion of the cross is used primarily to cause such a reaction, but as one journalist so rightly put it: "I can't imagine Judy Finnegan is trying to challenge the Church or challenge conventions by wearing a diamond Tiffany cross. It's just a present that Richard gave her and she likes it."
And yet you can't help but notice the amount of cross-embellished items making their way both onto the runway and into the British high street. The entire of east London is wearing an upside-down cross earring, and that leopard cross T-shirt from Urban Outfitters. The cross trend has brought with it the good (Givenchy, Jeremy Scott), the bad (Evil Twin, Urban Outfitters) and the just plain ugly (Jeremy Scott – this time for those glasses).
Scott walked onto the runway as the grand finale of his show last season to the collective gasp of the front row, in a black crew neck with an enormous jewelled cross on the front. There were a number of blogs, tweets and articles followed directly after, many referring the audacity of exulting a corporation to the status of a religion (the show was entitled Church of Fashion). Yet it didn't stop Vanessa Hudgens wearing his velvet cross dress to the show in New York last year.
Antipodium's Brides of Christ collection followed a similar theme, with personal favourites being the Hail Mary silk babydoll dress and the Thank Christ cross pendant T-shirt. The collection was a sell-out at Liberty's and frequently fetches for hundreds on eBay.
So what is it about this fairly inexceptional emblem that has allowed it to become so impactive on public conscious? It has caused wars, been worshipped for centuries, filtered into our wardrobes and jewellery boxes and even been said to protect us from evil.
The poet R.S. Thomas put the survival of the cross down to its great simplicity, its perfect geometry. Christians believe it represents God and therefore has an eternal power, just as He does. Jeremy Scott thinks it makes a great sunvisor and the little girl in The Exorcist found a completely different use for it... Whatever you believe, it looks like these two crossing lines are in it for the long haul.
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