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Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at Met Gala 2018

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at Met Gala 2018.

Colloquially and affectionately referred to as “fashion’s biggest night out,” the Met Gala 2018 is a pinnacle of iconic style. A fundraising benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the event welcomes celebrity stars, young creatives, and industry paragons alike. And the excitement doesn’t stop there—the gala also signifies the highly anticipated grand opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibition: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” opening on May 10, 2018.

The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Costume Institute in New York City. It marks the grand opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit. Each year’s event celebrates the theme of that year’s Costume Institute exhibition, and the exhibition sets the tone for the formal dress of the night, since guests are expected to choose their fashion to match the theme of the exhibit.

Central to the conversation was the papal garb on loan from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside the Vatican, even in the 1983 Met blockbuster, “The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art.”

The display of these extraordinary ecclesiastical pieces highlights the enduring influence of religion and liturgical vestments on fashion, from Cristóbal Balenciaga to Donatella Versace, who is a sponsor, alongside Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, of the show. (Condé Nast will provide additional support.) Among the 150 or so ensembles that were on display are pieces by Coco Chanel, who was educated by nuns, and John Galliano, whose transgressive Fall 2000 Couture collection for Christian Dior opened with a mitred, incense-swinging pope-like figure who proceeded down the runway to a voice intoning: “Understand the concept of love.”

By placing fashion within “the broader context of religious artistic production” (like paintings and architecture), Costume Institute curator in charge Andrew Bolton, working alongside colleagues from the Met’s medieval department and the Cloisters, aims to show how “material Christianity” has helped form “the Catholic imagination.” The intersection of faith and fashion, the sacred and profane, as it were, has not always been easy—“complex and sometimes contested” is how Bolton characterizes the relationship—but the interplay between the two has inspired some awe-inspiring sartorial innovation.

Also impressive are Anna Wintour’s 2018 co-hosts for this year’s Met Gala, all much-worshiped by the paparazzi: Amal Clooney, Rihanna, and Donatella Versace.

 

 

Photography by Vogue

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