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Met Gala 2018 Theme Revealed: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

NEW YORK — Next spring, the Costume Institute will sanctify its love of fashion as it presents “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”

Left: El Greco, Cardinal Fernando Niño de Guevara (1541–1609), c. 1600, oil on canvas; right: Evening Coat, Cristóbal Balenciaga for Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 1954–55 | Photos: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.5) / © Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Bryon C. Foy, 1957 (C.I.57.29.8) / Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb

Designed to create a dialogue between fashion and the masterworks of religious art in the museum’s holdings, the show will be presented in a trinity of locations: the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the medieval galleries at The Met Fifth Avenue (Galleries 980-981 & 300-305), and further uptown at The Met Cloisters.

Left: Follower of Lippo Memmi, Saint Peter, mid-14th century, tempera on wood, gold ground; right: Evening Dress, Elsa Schiaparelli, Summer 1939 | Photos: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.15) / © Metropolitan Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 1954 (2009.300.1185a, b) / Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb

Central to the exhibition, papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside The Vatican, will be on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Center.

Left: Processional cross, Byzantine, c. 1000–1050, silver, silver gilt; right: Evening Dress, Gianni Versace for Versace, Fall 1997–98 | Photos: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1993 (1993.163) / ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Donatella Versace, 1999 (1999.137.1) / Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb

The display of these extraordinary ecclesiastical pieces will highlight the enduring influence of religion and liturgical vestments on fashion, from Cristóbal Balenciaga to Versace, who is a sponsor of the show, alongside Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman. Condé Nast will provide additional support. Among the 150 or so ensembles that will be 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.

Left: Fragment of a Floor Mosaic with a Personification of Ktisis, Byzantine, 500–550, with modern restoration, marble, and glass; right: Ensemble, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for Dolce & Gabbana, Fall 2013–14 | Photos: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane DickFund and Fletcher Fund, 1998; Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, Dodge Fund, and Rogers Fund, 1999 (1998.69; 1999.99) / © Metropolitan Museum of Art; Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana / Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb

The exhibition will place fashion within “the broader context of religious artistic production” (like paintings and architecture), with Costume Institute curator in charge Andrew Bolton, working alongside colleagues from The Met’s medieval department and The Cloisters.

Left: Bible and Book of Common Prayer, British, c. 1607, silk and metal; right: Evening Dress, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, Spring 2014 haute couture | Photos: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Irwin Untemeyer, 1964 (64.101.1291) / © Metropolitan Museum of Art; Courtesy of Valentino S.p.A. / Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb

Anna Wintour’s 2018 co-hosts for this year’s Met Gala, are: Amal Clooney, Rihanna, and Donatella Versace.

Left: Manuscript Leaf With Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42, tempera and gold on parchment; right, Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969 | Photos: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin L. Weisl, Jr., 1994 (1994.516) / © Metropolitan Museum of Art; ; Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr., 1988 (2009.300.1373) / Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” is on view 10 May 2018 – 8 October 2018. A catalogue with photographs by Katerina Jebb will accompany the exhibition.

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