Currently on display at the Met Museum on Fifth and the Cloisters in the fashion exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Read part one here, the premise of this exhibition is fashions relationship with the Catholic religion and religions in general. Many of the designers showcased grew up in the Catholic church or still practice a belief. Items like Papal robes and other catholic dress were on loan to the museum. While the designer pieces were set among artifacts found in Medieval time periods or set in the Cloisters, a regal feeling building. To get a total understanding of how the exhibition flows, its best to visit both locations. Can’t make it? Keep reading, and don’t forget to read part one. Click images to enlarge.
Items From the Vatican.
These items were not allowed to be photographed. Only the artifact in the entrance was allowed to be photographed. Inside this portion of the exhibition were papal dress worn by Vatican Popes including crosses made of precious stones and gold, crowns, zucchetto skullcaps and various robes among other items.
Treasures For Heaven I
Medieval churches held many treasures within them and like those found in the Cloisters, they inspired designers. Pieces that inspired them include alter frontals, stained glass, rosaries and more. This section included a piece by Alexander McQueen, which consisted of a S/S 1999 Ensemble made of plywood, leather, wood and lace. This piece was apart of the ‘No. 13″ collection where he explored the tension between man and machine. Pictures were not allowed.
In this portion of the exhibition religious dress and color schemes are examined. It showcases the different religious dress within one religion, usually expressing a hierarchy and religious differences in dress between different religions. Focusing mainly on the Roman Catholic church where colors black, violet, white and scarlet are heavily used. They also highlight hue changes for specific occasions within Catholic proceedings.
This religious dress worn by females usually consists of a tunic, a scapular or apron, a veil and a sash at the waist.
The Dominican Habit
Perhaps the most widely recognized Habit thanks to Hollywood is the Dominican Habit. Its black and white contrast has a stronger visual appeal for designers, as opposed to the simple brown and plain white of other habits.
The everyday dress of the secular clergy is the Soutane. Created in the late 12th century this garment usually has a white clerical collar, a floor length, long sleeves and 33 buttons. Daily dress is normally a black soutane with a sash and skullcap.
Ecclesiastical Fashion Show
The liturgical processions of the Roman Catholic Church have similarities to a fashion show. Both follow an orderly arrangement, involve active and passive participants and involve music. The following designs were put in a fashion show like order and were placed near the rolling film “Roma” by Federico Fellini in which there is an “ecclesiastical fashion show” scene.
Celestial Hierarchy I
Inspired by saints, angels and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Angels, which usually are depicted as guides and messengers for humans, inspired many fashion designers.
The Dressed Madonna
Many designers created and continue to create garments for Madonna and Child sculptures. Featured here are vestments created by Ricardo Tisci and Yves Saint Laurent.
Celestial Hierarchy II
The designers showcased here were inspired by early Italian Renaissance paintings that were based on religious themes. Particularly inspiring were saints, angels, The Virgin and the work of painter Fra Angelico, who specified in frescos following this theme.
Inspired by Byzantine art that showcases figures such as Christ, The Virgin Mary and more. Dolce and Gabbana were inspired by fresco paintings found in the Moreale Cathedral in Sicily.
The Gianni Versace dresses showcased here were inspired by mosaics of Ravenna’s Byzantine monuments. The mesh like material and cross take inspiration from elements Gianni saw in the Met when he visited “The Glory of Byzantium” exhibit in 1997.
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination will be on display at the Met on Fifth and the Cloisters until October 8th 2018. I hope you can check it out, and see how fashion is inspired by everything, even religion. Have you been able to visit the exhibit? What were your favorite parts? -T.S.