fashion: a popular trend, esp. in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior; the production and marketing of new styles of goods, esp. clothing and cosmetics
I never thought I’d be able to say in my life that I have been to a fashion show, but I have. Peru Moda. I went with Daniela for work. It really was like entering a different world. Along the abandoned coast just minutes from my house, huge white tents were set up. We entered walking on red carpet and were given an official-looking badge naming us as “Buyers.” We also were given huge heavy-duty felt bags to store all of the pamphlets and business cards we were handed and all the merchandise our nametags told us we were going to buy. Once inside the tent the red carpet became gray, but I still nearly forgot that right underneath was dry dirt. Inside the white tents there was luxury and excess and wealth and fashion. Just outside and underneath there were dirt and lawn maintenance staff and brown ocean foam and normality. I came in wearing brown corduroy pants, my most stylish cotton shirt that I brought to Peru, and Toms shoes. I saw around me tight, short dresses, stiletto heels, and as much jewelry as tastefulness would allow.
We spent the first part of the day wandering from booth to booth checking out the latest styles and designs. We found a potential client and a couple potential artisan groups to add to Bridge of Hope. But at the end of the day we went to watch a show of several jewelry collections on the catwalk. It was freezing in the room because portable air conditioning units were getting a run for their money. It was one of the few places I’ve been in Lima that has air conditioning. There were five or six designers that had their jewelry collections, their models, and their music selection. It was quite exciting actually, although most of the collection consisted of totally outrageous and not-for-daily-use items (anyone want a silver Roman-style helmet?!)
I didn’t really know how to respond then and still don’t really know now. Although there was a very small section of Fair Trade companies (though all of them very large) and a small section where smaller artisan groups could display their products, the majority of the people in attendance and the majority of the producers come from large companies and corporations. I couldn’t help but think that we were supporting by our attendance this fashion ‘entity’ and all of these huge corporations that really have made it much harder for our artisans, and other small organizations or artisan groups, to market their goods. But at the same time, we do have a lot to learn from them.
JUEVES SANTO & EASTER IN GENERAL
fashion: a manner of doing something; in the style associated with a specified place or people
The Catholic Church, especially when it comes to holidays, shapes much of the culture in Peru, at least in part. Although it is probably true that in most places around the world, church attendance skyrockets on Christmas and Easter, it is definitely true here for all of holy week. It is tradition or the fashion, if you will, to attend a Palm Sunday mass, participate in various activities during the week, “fast” on Friday by eating tuna instead of another type of meat, and attend an Easter mass.
The mid-week activity that I participated in with my host mom was on Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday), or Maundy Thursday as we would call it. It is tradition to do a sort of pilgrimage and visit 7 churches that night. To start the evening there was a longer mass where they did 12 foot-washings of various people in the congregation. There was also a lot of singing, one of the priests did a lot of throwing of the incense smoke at the congregation, they gave communion, and there was a short biblical reflection. From there, a solid group of about 100-150 people set off from the church to walk the circuit of churches. The first mass started at 7:45pm and we finished the route at about 12:45am. In each church we went inside to see the altar with Christ’s body, in the form of bread and wine, inside. The priest who came along would say a few words and give time for prayer and reflection. Then we’d get up and continue on. The whole time there was someone carrying a full-sized cross at the front of the group. They would rotate people, but the idea of visiting 7 churches, according to my host mom, is to remember the 7 falls that Jesus apparently had as he walked to be crucified.
The evening wasn’t really a somber occasion as I was expecting it to be. True, when we arrived at a church there was silence and time for meditation, but the bulk of the time we spent walking. As we walked there was a taxi that followed us with two huge megaphone speakers on top and a wireless microphone sound system. The priest had the mic and led everyone in children’s songs and occasionally in the repeating of the Lord’s Prayer and other prayers to Mary. We quite literally were walking the streets of Lima, blocking traffic, chanting: Give me a C. C!! Give me a R. R!! Give me an I. I!! …. What does that spell?! CRISTO!! Cristo! Cristo! Cristo! Cristo! That had to be one of the most ridiculous thing I have ever done in my life. Although I’m not quite sure chanting “Cristo” in the streets is the best form of evangelism, it was cool to see the number of people that this event attracted and to be a part of a tradition that has been around for so long.
The sense of being a part of something so much bigger is something that I have often lost in the Protestant church in the U.S. Yes, I understand that there is the church universal. Yes, I know that there are Presbyterian churches around the globe. Yes, I know that the Protestants formed out of the Reformation. Etc. etc. But the Catholic church is so much older! It is so interesting to think that an entire culture, for the most part, decides not to eat meat on Fridays because of a church tradition. Or to know that across the world in Catholic churches, they hold to the same practices and liturgies and daily offices on the same days. I feel more aware of the greatness and vastness of the God we serve.
|Ukrainian Easter egg decorating!|