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Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

At the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the Robert Lehman Wing, and The Met Cloisters, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” explores the influence of Catholicism on the world’s most prominent 20th-century couturiers, many of whom were raised Roman Catholic—or at least inspired by the iconography.

“Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, dress has affirmed religious allegiances, asserted religious differences, and functioned to distinguish hierarchies as well as gender,” writes Andrew Bolton, the exhibit’s curator. “Although some might regard fashion as a frivolous pursuit far removed from the sanctity of religion, most of the vestments worn by the secular clergy and religious orders of the Catholic Church actually have their origins in secular dress.”

The display of these extraordinary ecclesiastical pieces will highlight the enduring influence of religion and liturgical vestments on fashion, from Cristóbal Balenciaga to Donatella Versace, who is a sponsor, alongside Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, of the show. (Condé Nast will provide additional support.) Among the 150 or so ensembles that will be on display are pieces by Coco Chanel, who was educated by nuns, and John Galliano, whose transgressive Fall 2000 Couture collection for Christian Dior opened with a mitred, incense-swinging pope-like figure who proceeded down the runway to a voice intoning: “Understand the concept of love.”


Author: Daria Mudrova


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