After the flood of pictures consisting of celebrities dressed in heavily detailed gowns, gold halos and even a pair of large angelic-wings, the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination is finally open to the public. Located within New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of art, the exhibit begins in Anna Wintour’s costume exhibit and extends to the Medieval and Byzantine galleries and peak of the Robert Lehman Wing. Aside from the primary location of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 77th, the exhibit also extends to the Met Cloisters on Margaret Corbin Drive.
The exhibit is meant to explore how the “Catholic imagination has shaped the creativity of designers.” Within the exhibit, gowns and ensembles from various haute couture collections by designers such as John Galliano, Ricardo Tisci and the Gabbana duo are displayed. In total, 55 catholic, or used to be catholic, designers are included in the exhibit. Ensembles from designers spread in a linear fashion throughout the Byzantine and Robert Lehman Wing.
All the ensembles by designers pay homage to Catholicism in some way—whether that be portraying nun uniforms or placing angel wings on the back of a wedding gown. Interestingly, designs that are included were not only simple interpretations of the widespread religion. Designers used fashion to not only portray, but even challenge, religious practices. In a specific piece, Dolce and Gabbana created a priestly robe that was meant to ultimately challenge the lines of womenswear and menswear.
Within the Anna Wintour costume exhibit, visitors are exposed to more than just elaborate catholic inspired designs. This particular section of the exhibit consists of sacred papal robes, crowns and religious crosses that have never before left the Vatican. Viewers are able to discover the biblical images that are woven into the robes, as well as admire the religious crowns that are built with expensive jewels such as sapphires and rubies.
Although seemingly superfluous and a little sacrilegious, the exhibit remains extremely respectful to the sacred artifacts. As opposed to the fashion designers that are displayed in more exposed sections of the museum, the artifacts originating from the Vatican that are within the costume exhibit are regulated with no pictures allowed. Anyway, one can assume that validation of the exhibit by the Pope himself would disband any sort of speculation.
Overall the exhibit is both glamorous and informative. The religious hymns playing throughout the exhibit and dimmed lighting paired harmoniously with the heavily detailed religious ensembles in the main Byzantine gallery. The exhibit captured both the glitz and glam of fashion while paying respects to traditional catholic artifacts creating a well-done balance of appreciation and exaggeration.
Article by: Isiah S Magsino