Met Gala season is upon us. New York City, be ready for one of the most bizarre themes yet of the annual fashion extravaganza, hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”
Held in celebration of the Met Costume Institute’s fashion exhibit every year, the Gala is a chance for Hollywood faces, musicians, and other famous names around the block to bring out their inner Alexander McQueen or Yohji Yamamoto to the red carpet. After the opening, the Museum puts the fashion pieces inspired by the annual theme on display for the rest of the summer.
The gala boasts some of the most daring, innovative, and sometimes downright outrageous avant-grade looks by the biggest luxury designers in the industry. Without exception, this year’s theme causes quite the stir with its explicit usage of Catholic imagery and concepts. It’s an abstraction and an artistic expression of the ancient religion, embodied in dazzling fabrics and personified by some of the hottest celebrities of the year. The bold choice to use religion as a canvas for couture strikes a questionable ring for the public. “Imagination” is a good way to put it: creativity certainly took over to steal some adventurous looks from the Vatican.
Cultural appropriations have always been on the radar for these events in the past; 2015’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” Met Gala saw the fusion of Chinese and Western fashion in haute couture pieces that could’ve ended in disaster without the proper sensitivity take in its curation. This year’s gala, with guests showing up in crucifixes, armory, and angel wings, could’ve certainly faced similar dangers.
The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, thankfully didn’t see a problem with the event. “I did go for the beauty of the exhibit,” he said in an interview with SiriusXM, after laughing that he “didn’t go there for the fashion.” The cardinal speaks in wonder at the theme, considering it as a powerful opportunity to display the “mystical and mesmerizing” enchantment of the religion.
“Catholic sensibilities”, according to Cardinal Dolan, are “not something you’re taught”, but an innate sense of understanding that “God’s presence, love, grace, and mercy lurk everywhere. Everything in this created universe hints at the divine. It’s all a metaphor.” This is the “Catholic Imagination” which the Archbishop believes to have influenced the beauty and splendor of the 2018 exhibition.
Some of the major brands found at the event included Italian labels Versace and Dolce and Gabbana, as well as British designers John Galliano and Gareth Pugh. Inspired by the architectural designs of traditional cathedrals were metallic embroidery, bedazzled trains and jewel-encrusted headpieces. Despite what could’ve been a delicate concept, the Medieval-themed looks came together to put on an unprecedented and visually splendid show.
Ariana Grande puts on her signature doll-like strut in a Sistine Chapel floor-length gown by Vera Wang, completed with a bow perched on her head. The powdery puffs of tulle and muted colors really strike a gorgeous contrast against her bronze skin.
Priyanka Chopra, as usual, stuns the crowd in dazzling burgundy velvet Ralph Lauren dress and intricate gold hair covering. The elegant gown truly gives her the Bollywood royalty look she deserves.
Red and velvet seem to be popular motifs this year; Blake Lively steals the show in a similarly hued Versace gown, featuring a lavishly embroidered train that cascades down the steps behind her. Talk about a spotlight moment.
Nothing beats Rihanna, though, head-to-toe in a silver Mason Margiela papal get-up by John Galliano. The three-piece crystal encrusted ensemble is nearly blinding, but let’s face it. It’s not a whole lot more extravagant than the Holy See itself.
The Pope would be proud.