Our father who art in heaven Versace be thy name.
This year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibit, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, takes museum goers on a religious pilgrimage of the fashion gods. The exhibition is spread throughout the museum in the Medieval and Byzantine Galleries, The Anna Wintour Costume Institute Center, and The Met Cloisters. The exhibit opens with dresses from Versace and Dolce & Gabanna, inspired by Christian iconography. The dresses represent the expression of the Catholic upbringing of both the designers, and the expression of religious art in their fashions. The garments set the tone for viewers entering the exhibition. Between the two celestial runways of dresses lies The Met crypt, complete with vintage Versace dresses that are overly embellished and adorned with various Christian icons.
The entire exhibition leads you on a discovery of both fashion and religious treasures throughout the museum. In another room, there are byzantine crosses next to crosses of Coco Chanel, designed by the one and only Karl Lagerfeld. In what feels like a medieval chapel exists the main focal point of the exhibition: a complete exploration of Catholicism on designers like Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, and more. There are nods to the Madonna, wedding dresses marching in a papal precession, and glimpses of priests, monks and nuns seen through fashion. Above the room is a balcony, complete with a church choir dressed in Balenciaga. The entire display is complemented by ominous music from the Italian Cinema. Not to miss dresses include a Papal-inspired outfit by Galliano and a heavily embellished floral Balenciaga Wedding dress.
The second part of the exhibition features authentic papal garb on loan from the Vatican. This creates a wonderful juxtaposition for the viewer. These historical pieces are no less works of art themselves. The third part of the exhibit takes place at the Met Cloisters and showcases beautifully inspired dresses woven into the architecture and exhibitions of the cloisters.
The exhibition does a wonderful job of being both immersive an informative. The designers place their own creativity and craftsmanship into each piece. The art and the fashions are enhanced by the already existing exhibitions and architecture of the museum. The exhibit definitely inspires both art and fashion lovers, leaving viewers with an understanding that art and fashion go hand-in-hand.
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination: The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters: Now- October 8th 2018