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10 Best “Catholic designs” on the red carpet at this year’s Met Gala



Christine Warner - published on 05/09/18

Celebrities turn out to wear stunning creations inspired by Catholic tradition.

What do St. John Paul II and Coco Chanel have in common?

Their garments are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the Costume Institute’s spring exhibition, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”

This theme was also the red carpet dress code for the 2018 Met Gala. While some have claimed there were irreverent and “carnival-esque” elements to the show, the concept itself was Vatican approved and the archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, said on his Sirius XM show that he “didn’t see anything sacrilegious” on the night and described it as a “great evening.

“I may have seen some things in poor taste, but I didn’t detect anybody out to offend the church,” he said on his SiriusXM show on Tuesday.

Dolan also said he felt touched by the number of people who approached him to discuss Catholicism that night.

“A number of people came up to speak about their Catholic upbringing. It was a powerful evening,” he said, praising the corresponding exhibition as “beautiful.”

Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator, also spoke to the way the theme was used in the fashion design: 

“While the fashions that are featured in the exhibition might seem far-removed from the sanctity of the Catholic Church, they should not be dismissed lightly, for they embody the storytelling traditions of Catholicism,” said Bolton. “Taken together, the fashions and artworks in ‘Heavenly Bodies’ sing with enchanted, and enchanting, voices.”

Held annually in New York since 1948, the Met Gala is an exclusive fundraiser for the museum. An invite gives stars the coveted chance to don extravagant ensembles made by top designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, and Oscar de la Renta.

Past themes include “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” and “Punk: Chaos to Couture,” so the 2018 exhibition is unusual in pulling inspiration from the Catholic tradition so explicitly. Open to the public on May 10, it features over 40 items from the Vatican.

Boltonexplains that the theme aims to raise “contemplations about the role dress plays within the Roman Catholic Church and the role the Roman Catholic Church plays within the fashionable imagination.”

So how did the imaginations of designers, stylists, celebrities, and makeup artists interpret the theme of “the Catholic imagination”? These 10 looks, including ornate headpieces and metallic tones, were the best outfits we found:

1. The Sistine Chapel print, by Vera Wang

This ethereal print inspired by Michelangelo’s famous fresco in the Sistine Chapel, “The Last Judgment,” worn by Ariana Grande, provided a subtle yet clear connection to Catholic art.

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