Jez Tozer

Reverend Peterson Feital had never truly known himself until art brought him face-to-face with his own soul.

Clad in the vestments that marked him as a member of the Church of England, he stood before Jez Tozer, a London-based photographer who has produced editorial for publications such as Japanese Vogue, GQ Style, and Arena.

But Rev. Feital didn’t just want to be photographed. He wanted to be captured.

“I want you to show me what you see in me as an object of art,” he told Tozer, “that I can’t see myself.”

And so the shoot commenced and the shutter clicked. But something was missing.

“Peterson,” said Tozer, “I want you to do what you do when you are on your own. I want you to pretend for a moment that I am God and you are praying.”

The request took Rev. Feital aback for a moment. “It was kind of a weird thing to say, in some ways, because it was almost like someone is coming into somewhere really, really private,” he says of the experience. “But then I realized that this is the work of an artist. If I don’t let him into this private place, he’s never going to get the essence of what I am.”

And so Rev. Feital let Tozer in, and for the first time in his life, allowed an artist to see who he was in private, dancing and praying and making noises to God in the way that he would do in the privacy of his own home.

He soon forgot about the camera.

When the shoot was finished, Tozer showed Rev. Feital one particular photo—one of the vicar spinning, his robes flying into the air as if of their own accord.

“Peterson,” he said. “This is it. This is the photo of your life. This is you.”

And it was. Rev. Feital describes the way his vestments moved in the photo by saying that it looked “almost like the breath of God was in it.”

Until he saw that picture, he had never fully seen himself. Art captures what a mirror cannot, reflecting not just the self, but the soul as well.

This is a truth that Rev. Feital knows uniquely well. He is, perhaps, the most fabulously-inclined vicar in all of England, mingling with the world’s most famous clothing designers, models, and creatives, as he works to bridge the gap between faith and fashion.

Speaking with Rev. Feital brings to mind two words: passionate empathy. This Brazilian-born member of the Church of England’s clergy cares about all people, but he has a special place in his heart for creatives.

The minister to the creative industries for the Diocese of London, Rev. Feital is a man who stands between two seemingly opposite worlds. In one hand, he holds the glitzy world of fashion, and in the other, the somber, yet joyful realm of theology. And somehow, he makes it all work, ministering to some of London's top creatives.

We were fortunate enough to catch up with the busy vicar of fashion for a brief chat about who he is, what he does, and why he does it. Let’s take a look at what he has to say about holding one of the most unique roles in the world.

“Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?”

“I am the Chief Executive of a charity—the first charity ever dedicated to the wellbeing of creatives in the creative industries, called The Haven London. I’m also the missioner to the creative industries for the London diocese of the Church of England. This is the first post, as well, that I’ve ever had.

On top of that, I am also the first theologian in the UK, to the best of my knowledge, to be looking at fashion in the Bible—looking at the theology of fashion, as it were. I am from Brazil, and I’ve been in the UK for 17 years. I try the best I can to live my life with as much excitement as I was born with—but I’m a serious man, too, obviously.

For the people who don’t know me, one of the questions people always have about me is: why fashion? Why the church? Why is a Brazilian doing this? These are the questions people ask me all the time.

And I say the answer is very simple. I find fashion is one of the most interesting subjects, one that has been widely discussed by sociologists, fashion historians, and all of that. But from a Biblical point of view, very few people have done that. Fashion that is something that is very much part of the fabric of the scriptures, and that’s why I find it fascinating.

But in the 21st-century, fashion is about identity—fashion is about culture, is about setting the trends. And also, there are rituals in fashion that I find quite fascinating.

Personally, I grew up in a country where to be someone you have to strive to become either a lawyer or a medic. So, creativity, when I grew up, was not something that Brazilian people were exposed to, and certainly men were not allowed to [participate in], but that’s very much the culture.

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