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12 Apr

Understanding Met Gala 2018 theme-“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

Just a few weeks away separates us from the event of the year in the fashion industry.

New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and many others, are all important events in fashion industry. However, none is as big as the Met Gala. Met Gala is known as the biggest night in fashion.

What does this breathtaking event represent?

Actually, Met Gala is a fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. More than $12 million were raised last year.

At the Met Gala event You will get to see the crème de la crème from the fashion and entertainment industry. The only way to attend Met Gala is by invitation only!  Here you will be able to see some of the most extravagant looks in the fashion industry.

This is the peak of fashion event of the year. Just like the Vogue Contributing Editor André Leon Talley put it – “it is the Super Bowl of fashion”.

Are there any rules?

There are a few, as last’s year smoking in the bathroom was not so well received to say at least …; no selfie’s are allowed is one of the most known rules; there is one rule that cannot be broken and everyone must follow – celebrities that are invited to this event by a designer or a brand have to wear clothing from that designer to the party. That is not such as harsh one, is it?

2018 Met Gala hosts

This year Met Gala will have three very special co-hosts along Anna Wintour.  Donatella Versace, Rhianna and Amal Clooney will accompany Anna Wintour on this special night.

While for Donatella Versace this will be her 17th gala, for Amal Clooney this will barely be her second one. However, no matter the number of galas each of them have been present to, as we know they will rock the world of fashion in their attires. Rhianna herself is an iconic figure of this Met gala, ever since having shown up in the yellow cape dress designed by the Chinese couturier Guo Pei.

n. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Deeper understanding of the “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” theme

Each year there is a theme. Celebrities come dressed according to the theme.  Some will do that in a more figuratively manner, while some more literally. This is the beauty of a themed gala.

This year’s theme is a rather notorious one “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”.

It represents the most genuine way a designer can express his Catholic imaginings. At the launch of the Met Gala 2018 in Rome, earlier this year, Andrew Bolton, curator in charge at the Met’s Anna Wintour Costume Center said that while people could question the relation between religion and fashion, it is a fact that “dress is central to any discussion about religion;”  and “it affirms religious allegiances and, by extension, it asserts religious differences.”

Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42,Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969

This gala represents the opening of the Costume’s Institute annual fashion exhibition. This year’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibition has almost 60,000 square feet. The 26 galleries of the museum expect visitors to come and contemplate the art.

This makes it the biggest and most aspiring exhibition Met has ever held.

Three of the Met’s exhibition spaces are hosting the exhibition –the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the medieval galleries and The Cloisters.

The catalogue that comes with it contains essays dating back to costume in medieval ascetic societies.

Heavenly Bodies Catalogue

Metropolitan Museum of Art itself published  the catalogue that will be available in May. This year’s  catalogue is in no regard smaller than the exhibition itself. It has 2 volumes – let’s refer to them as the Old and the New:

  • The Old focuses on the religious masterpieces from the Sistine Chapel. Some of the pieces brought to New York have never been outside Vatican at all. Some, that were too fragile to travel all the way to New York, have only been digitally scanned by Katerina Jebb. They are showcased in the catalogue.
    • Vatican lent more the 40 priceless pieces to the Met museum. They are on display at the exhibition.  They range from the mid-18th century to the beginning of the 21st.

      Cope of Benedict XV (r. 1914–22), 1918.

      Dalmatic (front) of Pius IX (r. 1846–78), 1845–61. Italian.

  • The New focuses on the modern-day fashion and how it leads to the “Catholic imagination”. It starts with the Gianni Versace’s fall 1991 collection and his last collection from the fall 1997. Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna is the one that inspired him for both of the collections. One can also see Dolce&Gabbana and their fall 2013 collection inspired by Duomo at Monreale in Sicily. The exhibition continues with many contemporary designers. Religion has been an inspiration in their collections. You can see the following designers on display – Thierry Mugler, Coco Chanel,  Jean Paul Gaultier, Schiaparelli and it all ends with Balenciaga’s fall 67 wedding dress.
    • These being said, you will see on display more than 150 borrowed garments, each having its own story.

      Gianni Versace. Evening dress, AW 1997–98. Gift of Donatella Versace, 1999

      Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino. Evening dress, SS 2014 haute couture.

      Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for Dolce & Gabbana. Ensemble, AW 2013–14.

      Jean Paul Gaultier. Lumière evening ensemble, SS 2007 haute couture. Courtesy of Röhsska Museum, Sweden.

      Cristóbal Balenciaga for House of Balenciaga. Wedding ensemble, 1967. Courtesy of Balenciaga Archives. Digital composite scan by Katerina Jebb

The exhibition will be available to the public eye starting May 10th till October 8th 2018. Therefore, the Met Gala event hosts and guests will be the first ones to enjoy this exquisite exhibition.


It is a fact that religion and liturgical garments have had a strong influence on fashion along the years. The connection between faith and fashion has not always been a good one or even an accepted one. Anyhow, the interaction these two worlds have had, has been inspiring for the fashion world and will always be.

The guests arriving at this year’s Met Gala will be able to play with garments in so many ways to showcase their understanding of “Heavenly Bodies”.  We are in for emblematic red carpet moments that will go down in fashion history.

For sure, it will be an event to remember and to hold on for years. Think you are ready for the biggest fashion event of the year now? I for one, can’t wait to see what designers have in stored for us and how they envisage the connection between religion and fashion these days.

Stay tuned for after event insights.

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Diana Sterescu
  • Lucian

    nice – interesting, thanks for sharing

    April 17, 2018 at 7:43 am Reply
  • Lucian

    a nice surprise for me on this new direction, I wasn’t aware about it – but looks interesting. I enjoyed the Gianni Versace. Evening dress, AW 1997–98. Gift of Donatella Versace, 1999

    April 20, 2018 at 9:42 am Reply

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