Met Gala: Heaven is a Place on Earth
Met Gala: Heaven is a Place on Earth
The first Monday of May is reserved for The Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, as it sanctifies its love of fashion. Dubbed as the Met Gala, the event is the biggest fashion fundraiser on the international calendar (a whopping $12 million were raised last year.)
Falling on May 7 this year, the event marks its 70th anniversary.
Founded by publicist Eleanor Lambert, the benefit was first held in 1948 to encourage donations from New York’s high society. Over the years, the event has come to associate itself with some of the most famous faces from the fashion, film, music and art industries, who come together to raise money for the Met’s Costume Institute and inaugurate its latest exhibition.
This year’s theme is “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”, wherein the exhibition explores fashion’s relationship with the Catholic Church and features masterworks some of the most revered names within the industry including, Coco Chanel, John Galliano, and Cristóbal Balenciaga, alongside 40 vestments and accessories spanning from 15 papacies, on loan from the Vatican.
Intended to initiate a dialogue between fashion and the masterworks of religious art in the museum’s holdings, the show will be presented in a trinity of locations: the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the medieval galleries at the Met’s Fifth Avenue location, and further uptown at the Cloisters. The exhibit explores fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism.
Pieces such as Pope Benedict XV’s white silk cape embroidered with gold thread and the pointed bishop’s hat of Pope Leo XIII, went on display alongside garments by Coco Chanel, John Galliano, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Donatella Versace, (who is also a sponsor of the exhibition).
Sartorial symbolism is taken very seriously in the world of fashion and catholic references are not unknown to this concept. With nearly 2,000 years of symbols to get inspired from, Catholicism and religious iconography have been a huge influence on the industry.
Designers such as Coco Chanel, Gianni Versace to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, have freely and exuberantly utilized catholic iconography multiple times within their collections. In their modern day incarnation, references of religious silhouettes were a mainstay at Pierpaolo Piccioli’s recent dresses for Valentino and Riccardo Tisci’s designs for Givenchy, to name a few.
Besides posing as an educational outing, the event generously serves some iconic red carpet moments that go down in the history of fashion.
The invite-only event is helmed by Vogue’s Anna Wintour who controls the extremely-exclusive guest list. Joining her, the Met Gala 2018 was co-chaired by Rihanna, Amal Clooney and Donatella Versace.
A-Listers such as Madonna, Cardi B, Sarah Jessica Parker, Blake Lively, Katy Perry, Priyanka Chopra, Selena Gomez, Lana Del Rey, Deepika Padukone, Zendaya and the Kardashian-Jenner sisters were all in attendance.
Many celebrities adhered to the Met Gala theme this year, but a few stood out for their daring fearlessness which was translated through their choice of garments.
Rihanna came dressed as a female pope in a heavily embellished dress designed by John Galliano for Maison Margiela. The dress was a version of an ensemble designed by Galliano during his time at Christian Dior in 2000 worn by a man, and is also included in the Met exhibition. The dress was accessorized with a beaded bishop’s hat, a pearl anklet and a bejeweled crucifix necklace to match.
The bishop’s hat was evocative of the papal tiaras worn by popes from the medieval era until the mid-1960s. The last papal tiara is said to be worth at least $15,000, and was worn by Pope Paul VI in 1963 in 1963. He gave his tiara as an act of benevolence to the world’s poor the following year in a dramatic gesture at the end of a liturgical mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Katy Perry turned up as Archangel Gabriel, in a gold Versace dress and boots with a 6 feet white feathered wingspan to complete the look.
Best red-carpet moment for 2018, though, goes to Lena Waithe, who wore a rainbow striped trailing cape to highlight the Catholic Church’s complicated relationship with the LGBTQ community. Waithe stood up for gender equality at an event that was themed around an establishment whose teachings formally oppose same-sex marriages
“The theme to me is, like, be yourself,” Waithe stated to the New York Times. “You were made in God’s image, right?” – There could not have been a more opportune moment and bigger platform to expose this plaguing issue.