The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
– 8 October 2018
From the beginning, religion and its devotional practices and traditions have influenced art and provided its motifs and themes. As the exhibition “Heavenly Bodies. Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” demonstrates, the fashion industry has also drawn inspiration from these works of art.
Organised in collaboration with the Vatican, the Versace fashion label and the American fashion magazine Vogue, the exhibition highlights the influence of the Catholic Church on modern fashion. Speaking about the purpose of his work, curator Andrew Bolton says: “I hope the take away of the exhibition is that Catholicism as a system of belief that has inspired some of the most extraordinary works of art.” The extensive exhibition showcases over 50 original garments and pieces of headgear, as well as rings and papal crowns from the Vatican’s historical collection, displayed interceding alongside design pieces inspired by Catholicism.
The exhibits visualise the relationship between design in the Catholic faith and in fashion – between ecclesiastical robes and the secular translation of historic cuts and religious symbolism. The intention of fashion is to provoke the church on the one hand, and to create manifestations of it through sacred materials and details, on the other.
On display are designs by Christian Lacroix for Dior, Gianni Versace (1946–1997) and Yves Saint Laurent (1936–2008). Parts of Versace’s collection include ornamentation and detail inspired by the mosaics in the Lateran Basilica in Rome. The exhibition displays have been digitised in detail by Barbara Drake Boehm and summarised in a catalogue available in the museum shop and online.