Whatever your personal religious preference may be – atheist, theist, agnost, heathen – one thing that can be agreed upon is the church’s commitment to a look. And no-one does “pomp” quite like the Catholics, who go by our own life motto: if in doubt, throw some gold at it. Capes, hoods, robes, Madonna, the popemobile – it’s all very glam. Little wonder that so many fashion designers have looked Rome-wards for inspiration over the years – their combined efforts making up next year’s Met Museum Costume Institute exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, sitting alongside real-life ecclesiastical wear in their biggest exhibition to date.
Spanning almost 60,000ft worth of gallery across three different spaces, the exhibition is set to feature around fifty garments on loan from the Vatican – the Paris of Church-wear? Interspersed throughout will be a selection of the Met’s own collection of religious art as well as around 150 garments from the more mainstream world of fashion, all of which have been directly influenced by Catholic iconography or style. Expect Versace and D&G-a-plenty, as well as more unexpected Valentino and Chanel pieces.
“The focus is on a shared hypothesis about what we call the Catholic imagination” said the Met’s curator Andrew Bolton. “It’s about the way it has engaged artists and designers and shaped their approach to creativity, as opposed to any kind of theology or sociology. Beauty has often been a bridge between believers and unbelievers.” As if all that wasn’t enough, Anna Wintour is taking on a helping hand this year in the form of holy trinity Rihanna, Donatella and Amal Clooney, who will be this year’s co-hosts for the Met Gala. We’re already dreaming of what Ri will pull out of the hat for this one.
Photograph: Dior Couture, Fall 2000