Chilean Fashion Show Featuring Models Dressed as Virgin Mary Sparks Controversy

A fashion show in Chile sparked a hell of controversy when designer Ricardo Oyarzun's plans to send models dressed as the Virgin Mary sashaying down the runway with half-exposed breasts became public knowledge. The Roman Catholic Church expressed outrage over Oyarzun’s choice of threads and a conservative group attempted to block the Santiago show by taking the matter to court, but was unsuccessful.

"We look on with special pain and deplore those acts which seek to tarnish manifestations of sincere love toward the Virgin Mary, which end up striking at the dignity of womankind by presenting her as an object of consumption," Chile's Episcopal Conference said in a statement.

Oyarzun said he had received telephone threats and even had excrement smeared on his doorstep.

Oyarzun says his designs—which reflect religious icons and depict a nativity scene—were inspired by the Virgin Mary but did not intend to represent her. Just before the show at a local Chilean nightclub yesterday, Oyarzun told Reuters, "There is no pornography here, there's no sex, there are no virgins menstruating or feeling each other up. This is artistic expression."