#MetHeavenlyBodies: Fashion is religion for Met Gala’s 2018 exhibition

This spring, on the 7th of May 2018, the celebrities will gather to pray on the Met Gala’s red carpet. Christened “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” the new, and probably iconic,  Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition.

The thematic exhibition will feature a dialogue between fashion and masterworks of religious art in The Met collection to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism.

“The Catholic imagination is rooted in and sustained by artistic practice, and fashion’s embrace of sacred images, objects, and customs continues the ever-evolving relationship between art and religion,” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met. “The Museum’s collection of religious art, in combination with the architecture of the medieval galleries and The Cloisters, provides the perfect context for these remarkable fashions.”

“Fashion and religion have long been intertwined, mutually inspiring and informing one another,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “Although this relationship has been complex and sometimes contested, it has produced some of the most inventive and innovative creations in the history of fashion.”

The exhibition will feature approximately 50 ecclesiastical masterworks from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside the Vatican. These will be on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries and will include papal vestments and accessories, such as rings and tiaras, from the 18th to the early 21st century, encompassing more than 15 papacies. The last time the Vatican sent a loan of this magnitude to The Met was in 1983, for The Vatican Collections exhibition, which is the Museum’s third most-visited show.

In addition, approximately 150 ensembles, primarily womenswear, from the early 20th century to the present will be shown in the medieval galleries and The Met Cloisters alongside religious art from The Met collection, providing an interpretative context for fashion’s engagement with Catholicism. The presentation situates these designs within the broader context of religious artistic production to analyze their connection to the historiography of material Christianity and their contribution to the perceptual construction of the Catholic imagination.

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino | Evening Dress | spring/summer 2014 haute couture | Courtesy of Valentino S.p.A. | Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital | Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb via Facebook/metmuseum

Designers in the exhibition will include Azzedine Alaïa, Cristobal Balenciaga, Geoffrey Beene, Marc Bohan (for House of Dior), Thom Browne, Roberto Capucci, Callot Soeurs, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Maria Grazia Chiuri (for House of Dior), Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana (for Dolce & Gabbana), John Galliano (for House of Dior), Jean Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, Craig Green, Madame Grès (Alix Barton), Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garçons), Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld (for House of Chanel), Jeanne Lanvin, Shaun Leane, Claire McCardell, Laura and Kate Mulleavy (for Rodarte), Thierry Mugler, Norman Norell, Guo Pei, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (for Valentino), Pierpaolo Piccioli (for Valentino), Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons (for his own label and House of Dior), Riccardo Tisci (for Givenchy), Jun Takahashi (for Undercover), Isabel Toledo, Philip Treacy, Donatella Versace (for Versace), Gianni Versace, Valentina, A.F. Vandevorst, Madeleine Vionnet, and Vivienne Westwood.

In celebration of the opening, the Museum’s Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on Monday, May 7, 2018. The evening’s co-chairs will be Amal Clooney, Rihanna, Donatella Versace, and Anna Wintour. Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman will serve as Honorary Chairs. The event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

A publication by Andrew Bolton will accompany the exhibition and will include texts by authors David Morgan and David Tracy in addition to new photography by Katerina Jebb and will be distributed by Yale University Press.

A special feature on the Museum’s website, www.metmuseum.org/HeavenlyBodies, provides further information about the exhibition. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join the conversation about the exhibition and gala. Use #MetHeavenlyBodies, #CostumeInstitute, and #MetGala on Instagram and Twitter.

Presented at The Met Fifth Avenue in both the medieval galleries and the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the show will also occupy The Met Cloisters, creating a trio of distinct gallery locations.

“Heavenly Bodies”  will be  on view from May 10 through October 8, 2018.