Fashion designer creates clerical line for women

A London-trained fashion designer has launched a new line of clerical wear for women in the Church of England.

Camelle Daley, who founded the label House of ilona, says it’s high time for a shake-up among Anglican clergy who, like Roman Catholic priests, still wear traditional black shirt and collar.

Daley said she got the idea when a recently ordained friend said she wanted a new look for a new age.

The result? Daley’s collection, now selling briskly, includes peplum dresses and tops, classic black dresses, and a fitted green blouse with chiffon detail.

She has received hundreds of orders from women, who now make up one-third of the clergy in this country’s established church.

“Today, more than ever, women in ministry are complaining about the boxy, shapeless shirts on offer,” she said. “Why should a woman’s style go from stylish and elegant to manly and boxy when she is dressed in her clerical attire for ministering?”

The launch of her clerical clothes coincides with the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in the Church of England.

Within a year or so it’s likely that women will be consecrated as bishops.

“The style is not about flaunting the body,” added Daley. “It is about clothes that accommodate the female shape in cut and fit.”

For Daley, the latest line is a labor of love. “I love designing,” she said. “This is my way of giving back to the women in ministry who have affected my life so greatly.” —RNS

This article was edited May 27, 2014.

Trevor Grundy

Trevor Grundy writes for Religion News Service.

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