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  • Claire Kalikman

The Holy Trinity: Fashion, the Church, and the Met

Yale Fashion House

DECEMBER 09, 2017

Next year, on the first Monday in May, fashion and religion will collide, contrast, and, inevitably, create controversy. The Met Gala 2018 theme was recently announced as “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”. The double entendre in the name is obvious, but the theme itself may cause some confusion. Although most people may not immediately associate fashion and religion, the Met aims to showcase how the two have interacted throughout history.

The theme causes one to wonder: is fashion on the level of religious art production? A huge portion of art throughout history has been inspired by religion. Religious institutions have sponsored some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Raphael not to mention the construction of architectural masterpieces such as Chartres Cathedral.

Similarly, renowned artists, such as Brancacci and Grotto, have been inspired by religious iconography. Is it fitting to view fashion through the same lens? That question remains to be answered by the Met exhibit.

What is fair to say is that there are very clear examples of religion’s influence on fashion. Think of Anna Wintour’s famous first Vogue cover, with the image of Michaela Bercu in a cross-encrusted Christian Lacroix sweater and Guess jeans. Or look at nearly all of Dolce & Gabbana’s recent collections. Consider bridal wear, a huge industry deeply rooted in religion.

This theme will also be an excellent opportunity for the Met to show off its vast collection of religious art. The exhibit will  include rarely seen papal garb borrowed from the Vatican.

The Met Gala will be co hosted by Anna Wintour, Donatella Versace, Rihanna, and Amal Clooney. The exhibit will spread across three areas of the museum: the Costume Collection, the Medieval galleries, and The Cloisters.

As exceptional as the exhibition may be, the Met Gala red carpet steals the spotlight every year without fail.  Here are some predictions of what attendees will wear:

Those looking to stir up some controversy may wear a naked dress with religious imagery. It could also be striking to see someone draw inspiration from another religion, such as Islam or Hinduism. Hopefully there will be some inventive hats, as there is a rich history of hats denoting status in the Church.

Beyoncé will do some sort of Mother Mary, fertility goddess ensemble, akin to her second pregnancy announcement photos. Here’s hoping she brings Sir along as her baby Jesus. Lady Gaga will show up in a nun’s habit and robes without embellishment. Anna Wintour will wear her usual slim-fitting, long dress with short sleeves, perhaps with a gold cross emblazoned across the front, as an homage to the aforementioned cover.

There will certainly be fallout for those who cross the line with their provocation. This is certainly a riskier  theme than those of years past, even more so than 2016’s  “China Through the Looking Glass”. Invitees should be prepared to walk a delicate line.

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