Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the CatholicImagination is about the influence of Catholic imagery on designers.

It's the largest show that The Costume Institutehas staged.

It's in two sites: The Met Fifth Avenue andThe Met Cloisters.

The garments that we've chosen specificallyrelate to religious objects within The Met's collection.

So, in a way, it's a series of interventions,forging dialogues between fashion and the display of religious arts within a museumcontext.

We have over 50 masterworks from The Vaticancollection; many haven't been seen outside of the Vatican before.

The Byzantine galleries focus on designerswho've been inspired by the interiors of Byzantine churches.

One example is Gianni Versace's last collection, which was inspired by the micro-mosaics at Ravenna Cathedral.

And the Medieval Sculpture Hall focuses onthe holy ordering of the Catholic church.

One of the highlights is by John Gallianofor Christian Dior, a sort of figment of John's imagination of a pope.

In The Met Cloisters, the exhibition is focusingon designers who've been inspired by monastic orders, but also the seven sacraments of theCatholic faith.

With this catalogue, we worked with the artistKaterina Jebb.

Katerina scans garments, sometimes up to ahundred scans and collages them back together, and that process captures the materialityof the garments in a greater detail than perhaps a camera.

It almost gives a sort of saintly aura.

Fundamentally, designers who either were raisedor educated Catholic have a metaphorical inclination that defines their creative impulses.

Designers certainly gravitate towards religiousimagery for provocation.

On the whole, I'd say that the majority ofdesigners engage with it for nostalgia and for reasons of beauty.

I hope that one of the takeaways from theexhibition is that Catholicism as a belief system has inspired some of the most extraordinaryworks of art.

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