Vatican Gems in “Heavenly Bodies” Met Exhibit

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
The Costume Institute’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibition, running from May 10 through October 8, 2018, at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters in NYC, will highlight the ongoing interplay between fashion and religion.

The most impressive part of the Met’s riveting and astonishingly charming show is devoted to the Vatican’s characteristic “ermine-trimmed” and “jewel-encrusted” splendor. Among the several great ecclesiastical garments on display are pieces by Coco Chanel, Gianni and Donatella Versace, Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld, Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, and John Galliano.

  • Christian Lacroix. Wedding ensemble, autumn/winter 2009–10 haute couture. Courtesy of Maison Christian Lacroix, Paris. Digital composite scan by Katerina Jebb

“The Byzantine galleries focus on designers who’ve been inspired by the interiors of Byzantine churches,” the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Andrew Bolton states. The man who spearheaded the Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition “Heavenly Bodies” provides further information on the event, saying: “One example is Gianni Versace’s last collection, which was inspired by the micro-mosaics at Ravenna Cathedral. And the Medieval Sculpture Half focuses on the holy ordering of the Catholic church. One of the highlights is by John Galliano for Christian Dior, a sort of figment of John’s imagination of a pope.”

Most of the designers in the exhibition were raised or educated Catholic. The Met’s show, pairing 150 ensembles with works of art from the museum’s collection of religious artifacts, will reveal the faith-based background of these renowned designers as it is lying behind their creative impulses. Their works, imbued with metaphors, narratives, and symbolism, as well as Catholic imagery and iconography, will explore the influential role of spirituality in contemporary culture, celebrating beauty as a bridge among people of different religions.

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” Exhibition
May 10 – October 8, 2018
The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters