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‘Heavenly Bodies’: Museum to display clothing inspired by Catholic style

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/08/17

From The New York Times:

The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is stepping into the religious fray.

The title of the department’s blockbuster 2018 fashion exhibition will be “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” Stretching across three galleries — the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the medieval rooms in the Met on Fifth Avenue and the Cloisters — and approximately 58,600 square feet, it will feature 50 or so ecclesiastical garments and accessories on loan from the Vatican, multiple works from the Met’s own collection of religious art and 150 designer garments that have been inspired by Catholic iconography or style.

These range from the obvious (Versace and Dolce & Gabbana icons) to the more unexpected (a Chanel wedding gown inspired by a communion dress, Valentino couture gowns inspired by Francisco di Zurbarán’s paintings of monk’s robes). It will be the department’s largest show to date. It may also be the most provocative. And not just because of all the eye-rolling wordplay the title invites.

“Every show we do at the Costume Institute has that potential,” said Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge. “This one perhaps more than any other. But the focus is on a shared hypothesis about what we call the Catholic imagination and the way it has engaged artists and designers and shaped their approach to creativity, as opposed to any kind of theology or sociology. Beauty has often been a bridge between believers and unbelievers.”

So a Balenciaga one-seam wedding dress will be displayed in a chapel in the Cloisters dominated by an enormous crucifix; a Dolce & Gabbana mosaic piece from fall 2013, inspired by mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale in Sicily, will be set against the Byzantine mosaics of the Met’s collection. The point is to connect the dots between material expression and sourcing.

Read more.

Photo: Wikimedia

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