Heavenly fashions at The Met

Those with an interest in fashion know well what the phrase “First Monday in May” refers to.

It is – as we’ve happily covered the last couple of years – the day when The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art formally unveils its big spring exhibition, traditionally with a press preview during the day and its star-studded benefit gala that evening.

Next year’s, on May 7, 2018, will have a decidedly heavenly element to it, as the museum announced earlier this week.

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” will open to the public May 10 and continue through Oct. 8. The expansive show will be presented at The Met Fifth Avenue in both its medieval galleries and the Anna Wintour Costume Center and will also continue at The Met Cloisters.

As press materials tell us, “The thematic exhibition will feature a dialogue between fashion and masterworks of religious art in The Met collection to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism. A group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican will travel to the United States to serve as the cornerstone of the exhibition, highlighting the enduring influence of liturgical vestments on designers.”

Daniel H. Weiss, president and CEO of The Met, adds, “The Catholic imagination is rooted in and sustained by artistic practice, and fashion’s embrace of sacred images, objects and customs continues the ever-evolving relationship between art and religion. The Museum’s collection of religious art, in combination with the architecture of the medieval galleries and The Cloisters, provides the perfect context for these remarkable fashions.”

In addition to dozens of ecclesiastical masterworks, papal vestments and accessories representing more than 15 papacies since the 18th century, the exhibition will feature some 150 ensembles from the early 20th century to the present, with designers ranging from Cristobal Balenciaga to Raf Simons, Vivienne Westwood to Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and dozens more. It is organized by Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of The Costume Institute, working together with colleagues in The Met’s medieval department. (We’ll have more on the story in our January “Star Turns” issue, so stay tuned).

And for those with an eye on pop-culture stars, the 2018 gala will be co-chaired by Amal Clooney, Rihanna, Donatella Versace and, of course, Anna Wintour.

For more, visit metmuseum.org/heavenlybodies.

– Mary Shustack

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