Coverage of religious cults in the media tends to fall into two categories: stunned horror (surrounding events like the Jonestown massacre) and baffled amusement (Scientology and its host of celebrity followers). What no one seems to be commenting on is the often bizarre, yet highly-original (some might even say fashion-forward) creations that cult followers sport. Not convinced? Here, we count down our top 5 cult classics.
5. Heaven’s Gate’s awesome color scheme
The Heaven’s Gate cult is really a product of trippy ’70s California, and their superb graphics reflect this era. Their rainbow logo bears a strong resemblance to something out of a late ’60s sci-fi movie, which is unsurprising given the group’s UFO connections, and wouldn’t look out of place up on the wall of a college dorm, next to other “witty” retro posters of Che Guevara and The Doors. In 2008 Nike had planned to release a sneaker, Heaven’s Gate, in eerily similar color ways, before realizing the connotations of the name, and deciding to delay release of the shoe, newly-christened the creative “Un-Heaven’s Gate”.
4. Church of Satan’s B-Movie-esque advertising
The Church of Satan clearly have their finger on the cultural pulse, tapping into the trend for all things retro. Their advertising cleverly alludes to both Uncle Sam and to sexy/exploitative B-movie classics. They even recently moved their offices from San Francisco to Hell’s Kitchen in NYC, perhaps hoping to position themselves as the hipster’s favorite cult.
3. Messiah of the Unification Church
South Korea is so hot right now, and Reverend Moon, the self-appointed Messiah of the Unification Church, has really upped the fashion stakes with his blinged out apparel. As a Brit, I think I can safely say that these velvet, gold, bejeweled creations rival the Queen’s wardrobe. Pictured below with his equally-stylish wife, Moon demonstrates that he’s been reading Vogue by donning one of this season’s most on-trend looks — full-length, white gowns and dresses are so in this summer.
2. Mormon Underwear
So high is the level of interest from the general populous in Mormon undergarments, that the group has set up a website devoted to explaining their significance and answering questions that the perplexed public pose. Not only is the underwear symbolic of the Mormon promise to God, but even better is their vintage look and feel, and the lightweight fabric and long length make them a practical choice whatever the season. As vintage style French lingerie has become all the rage, we can definitely see Mormon underwear making a comeback in 2009.
1. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Last but not least, the Texan cult that was the subject of mass media scrutiny last year, and yet only managed to garner one article of praise (from the Guardian) for their beautifully designed dresses and phenomenal hairstyles. The cult demonstrate timeless, classic elegance which is all the more impressive given that they shun modern technology. Keeping hairstyles as complicated as these set without a spray or mousse is, if anything, miraculous.