Rudy Opsomer, the president of the Friends of the Tournai Cathedral, said the garments were usually kept in the church's chambers, far from the public eye.
"It was a shame that they were no longer visible to the general public," Opsomer said, adding : "It's an opportunity to see these clothes beyond their religious elements."During the show, models presented the attires, which showed the evolution of attires from the 17th to the 21st century, to an audience of around 100 people. Ornaments dating back to the 15th century that are stored at the cathedral were too fragile to be shown during the show.
Opsomer said that since the clothes are sacred, they could not be donned by people other than religious officials. Church tradition obliges cathedral staff to burn the garments once they are worn out. So, he said they were lucky to have the permission of Tournai bishop Guy Harpigny to hold the show.
The show, organised by the cathedral, featured around 30 attires, including capes embroidered with gold and silver threads, in an effort to promote the cathedral's collection of religious textiles, which it claims to be Belgium's richest.
The cathedral catwalk marked the first time in 50 years the garments were shown to the public, cathedral expert Michel-Amand Jacques said.