Costume Institute’s Spring 2018 Exhibition at The Met Fifth Avenue and Met Cloisters Focuses on Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
Costume Institute Benefit on May 7 with Co-Chairs Amal Clooney, Rihanna, Donatella Versace, and Anna Wintour, and Honorary Chairs Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman
The Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, on view from May 10 through October 8, 2018 (preceded on May 7 by The Costume Institute Benefit) is on view at The Met Fifth Avenue—in the medieval galleries, Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries for Byzantine Art, part of The Robert Lehman Wing, and the Anna Wintour Costume Center—and uptown at The Met Cloisters.
The thematic exhibition features a dialogue between fashion and masterworks of medieval 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 serves as the cornerstone of the exhibition, highlighting the enduring influence of liturgical vestments on designers.
The exhibition is made possible by Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, and Versace. Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.
“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,” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met. “The Museum’s collection of Byzantine and western medieval art, in combination with the architecture and galleries that house these collections at The Met, provide the perfect context for these remarkable fashions.”
In celebration of the opening, the Museum’s Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, takes place on Monday, May 7. The Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination evening’s co-chairs are Amal Clooney, Rihanna, Donatella Versace, and Anna Wintour. Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman serve as Honorary Chairs. The event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.
“Fashion and religion have long been intertwined, mutually inspiring and informing one another,” said Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “Although this relationship has been complex and sometimes contested, it has produced some of the most inventive and innovative creations in the history of fashion.”
The exhibition features approximately 40 ecclesiastical masterworks from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside the Vatican. Encompassing more than 15 papacies from the 18th to the early 21st century, these masterworks are on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries and include papal vestments and accessories, such as rings and tiaras. The last time the Vatican sent a loan of this magnitude to The Met was in 1983, for The Vatican Collections exhibition, which is the Museum’s third most-visited show.
Providing an interpretative context for fashion’s engagement with Catholicism are more than 150 ensembles, primarily womenswear, from the early 20th century to the present, on view in the Byzantine and medieval galleries, in part of the Robert Lehman Wing, and at The Met Cloisters alongside medieval art from The Met collection. The presentation situates these designs within the broader context of religious artistic production to analyze their connection to the historiography of material Christianity and their contribution to the construction of the Catholic imagination.
Designers in the exhibition include A.F.Vandevorst, Azzedine Alaïa, Cristobal Balenciaga, Geoffrey Beene, Marc Bohan (for House of Dior), Thom Browne, Roberto Capucci, Jean- Charles de Castelbajac, Gabrielle Chanel, Sorelle Fontana, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (for Dolce & Gabbana), John Galliano (for House of Dior and his own label), Jean Paul Gaultier, Robert Goossens (for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent), Craig Green, Madame Grès (Alix Barton), Demna Gvasalia (for Balenciaga), Rosella Jardini (for Moschino), Stephen Jones, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld (for House of Chanel), Jeanne Lanvin, Shaun Leane, Henri Matisse, Claire McCardell, Laura and Kate Mulleavy (for Rodarte), Thierry Mugler, Rick Owens, Carli Pearson (for Cimone), Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (for Valentino), Pierpaolo Piccioli (for Valentino), Stefano Pilati (for Saint Laurent), Gareth Pugh, Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons (for his own label and House of Dior), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (for Viktor & Rolf), Olivier Theyskens, Riccardo Tisci, Jun Takahashi (for Undercover), Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton (for Preen), Philip Treacy, Duke Fulco di Verdura (for Gabrielle Chanel), Donatella Versace (for Versace), Gianni Versace, and Valentina.
A collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, the exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, working together with colleagues in The Met’s Medieval department: C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters; Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters; Helen C. Evans, Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art; and Melanie Holcomb, Curator.
The interdisciplinary architecture and design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) created the exhibition design with The Met’s Design Department. Select mannequin headpieces are created by Shay Ashual. Raul Avila produced the gala décor, which he has done since 2007.
A publication by Mr. Bolton accompanies the exhibition and includes texts by Ms. Boehm, Mr. Mann, and Marzia Cataldi Gallo, David Morgan, Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, and David Tracy in addition to new images by Katerina Jebb. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, the 336-page hardcover book has 330 illustrations. The two-volume set comes in a slipcase and retails for $65.
A series of events and programs will complement the exhibition.
Art historian Anne Higonnet will explore art historical depictions of angels, bishops, and monks and their influence on fashion designers in a three-part series, “The Better Angels of Our Wardrobes: Clothing and the Catholic Imagination,” on May 2, 23, and 30 at 11 a.m. in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. A special Teen Summer Studio, July 10–August 3, invites teens to create pieces inspired by the exhibition. For details, visit metmuseum.org/teens. A Family Afternoons program on August 12, from 1 to 4 p.m., will also complement the exhibition and offer art making, gallery activities, and Story Time.
A special feature on the Museum’s website, www.metmuseum.org/HeavenlyBodies, provides further information about the exhibition and the above events. Follow us on Facebook.com/metmuseum, Instagram.com/metmuseum, and Twitter.com/metmuseum to join the conversation about the exhibition and gala. Use #MetHeavenlyBodies, #CostumeInstitute, and #MetGala on Instagram and Twitter.
May 5, 2018