Cultural appropriation can be a touchy subject. The reality is, creative humans have been inspired by aspects of the world around them and beyond, since the beginning of expression. Inspiration is something that happens, it’s not created with a formula or with boundaries, in this way it is somewhat divine. Religion and spirituality have been a major part of our global cultures, and it has also wound up the subject of artists, designers and beauty creators for generations.

With the opening of the MET’s “Heavenly Bodies” exhibition, based on the theme of Catholicism in fashion, we look at beauty inspired by religion.




Beauty inspired by Buddhism is characterized by minimalism, clean yet organic lines, earthy colors and gold, and often a shaved head. 

photo: Felicity Ingram
photo: Felicity Ingram
photo: Hedi Slimane


photo: Jem Mitchel




Beauty inspired by Christianity/Catholicism is characterized by opulence, signals to suffering, rich primary colors, plus whites and gold. There is often a signal to a special significance such as a crown or halo.

photo: Miles Aldridge
Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2007 Couture Collection
photo: Miles Aldridge
photo: Steven Klein




Beauty inspired by Folk religions comes in many forms. It is difficult to group all earthly and traditional forms of spirituality together. In general, here we see more appreciation for nature, craft and textures.  


photo: Corrine Day
photo: Paolo Roversi
photo: Kiki Xue
photo: Mario Sorrenti
photo: Craig McDean




Beauty inspired by Hinduism is characterized by bright colors, ornate detailing even in the makeup, flowing fabrics, and long hair.

photo: Steven Meisel
photo: Signe Vilstrup
photo: Steven Meisel




Beauty inspired by Islam is characterized by ornate pattern, luxurious fabrics, opulent colors, often covering the hair, and a focus on the eyes. 

photo: Greg Kadel


photo: Angelo D’Agostino


photo: Alexander Straulino
photo: Inez & Vinoodh




Beauty inspired by Judaism is often characterized by signals from the Hasidic branch of the religion. Here we often see the use of the sidelocks or payot. 

Jean Paul Gaultier, fall winter 1993
photo: Nicoline Patricia Malina
Meadham Kirchhoff, fall winter 2011
photo: Billy Kidd




Beauty inspired by New Age Spirituality often uses symbols from paganism or indications for etherial energy. Luminosity, shine and sparkle hint at underlying energies, and the beauty of the unknown.

photo: Steven Klien
photo: unknown
photo: Laurence Laborie
photo: Steven Meisel
photo: Mario Sorrenti
photo: Willy Vanderperre

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