Earlier this week, the fashion world gathered for the holiest of occasions…The Met Gala.
But, before the festivities began, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its doors to a select few lucky enough to get a sneak peek into its newest and largest exhibit. The theme for this year’s Gala was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination and it did not disappoint. The exhibition and Gala would not have been possible without the help of benefactors such as Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, Donatella Versace and Condé Nast.
The morning of the Met Gala we arrived for a press preview of this glorious exhibit and were honored to be in the presence of Anna Wintour and Donatella Versace. The opening remarks enlightened us on how Fashion and The Catholic Imagination is more universal and whimsical than one might expect. Opening remarks were given by president and CEO of The Met Daniel Weiss, Archbishop of New York Cardinal Dolan, Stephen Schwarzman and Andrew Bolton. Following the press conference, The Met’s guests were granted access to preview the exhibit firsthand at both the main facilities as well as The Met Cloisters.
The collection is told through short narratives to help weave each piece to the next and consists of three separate installations. The collection begins at The Met Fifth Ave in the Byzantine and medieval section, followed by the Anna Wintour Costume Center and then finally the Met Cloisters. This truly rare exhibit also consists of 40 pieces from the Sistine Chapel that have never left the Vatican…until now! There are over 150 outfits sourced from the early 20th century to present day.
Whether one was or was not raised in a religious household, we can all agree that we’ve all either witnessed or learned, in an academic sense, how religion has affected society, culture, customs, and traditions through apparel and clothing. The exhibit consists of pieces that exemplify the theme in a literal sense such as clergy wear or Catholic imagery, but as stated by sociologist Andrew Geeley, metaphor is the essential characteristic of the Catholic imagination.
Pictured above is one of my favorite ensembles called Statuary Vestment for The Virgin of El Rocio. With a mantle crafted by Yves Saint Laurent and a tiara from Goossens, this lavish piece is a replica of the Virgin El Rocio located in Hermitage of El Rocio, Spain. Beyond simply the beauty of this piece and its golden silk adornment, what really drew me in was its story. This piece best exemplifies the imagination of the Catholic Imagination as legend says “the virgin’s wooden form was discovered in the trunk of a tree that grew where the hermitage is located. This piece opens up a dialogue about how religion can inform and influence the imagination of people and how both can exist simultaneously in harmony.