Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

In the beginning of July, I was finally able to find time to go on vacation! I know, I can hardly believe it either. Most people would think living in Los Angeles means I would head to an island paradise for some down time. However I have never been normal so I traded in one big city, and went east to New York City! New York is a goldmine of art and fashion, basically my own version of paradise.

On this trip I was able to make just enough time to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art. A true dream of mine! “The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters.” I honestly could have spent days upon days exploring the grand halls of this museum but I was here for one thing, and one thing only. The Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition- Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.

I know you all are pretty familiar with the prestigious Met Gala, the annual red carpet that takes place on the first Monday of May. If you aren’t sure, feel free to check out my most recent red-carpet coverage of probably one of the best Met Gala moments ever. However, many people don’t realize that this red carpet is actually a part one of the “most visible and successful fundraisers in the world, drawing guests from the worlds of fashion, film, society, sports, business, and music.” During this fundraiser the high profile guests are given the chance to see the new exhibition and well…. dance around the museum as well. See the example below.

Now it was my turn to see the exhibit and honestly, it kind of changed my life. Never before have I ever stood in a museum and just cried. “The Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition—at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters—features a dialogue between fashion and medieval art from The Met collection to examine fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism.” Throughout the magical exhibit, you get to experience the influence of the catholic religion upon fashion through the eyes of many famous designers.

Within the exhibit you will observe the many styles of Versace, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Thierry MuglerDolce & Gabbanana, and so many more! One of my favorite moments has to be walking through the beginning of the exhibit. The Byzantine Galleries showcase fashion’s fascination with Byzantine sacred spaces and the interiors of Byzantine churches. To help deliver the message, standing above the guests are breathtaking pieces from Gianni Versace’s final collection. Each garment showed a unique crucifix motif, drawing inspiration from the Byzantine era.

Nothing can prepare you for making your way into the largest room of the exhibit. As you enter the main room, you are accompanied by a hauntingly dark, church symphony. I felt like I was actually being transported into a completely different world. Even though you are surrounded by equally emotional people, you still feel as though you are the only one there. Everywhere you look is another garment or work of art that is truly more beautiful than the next.  Describing this experience with words is close to impossible, so please enjoy this video narrated by Wendy Yu Curator in Charge, Andrew Bolton.

This exhibition perfectly displays the beautiful relationship between art and fashion. I have spent the past few years finding ways to help teach the younger generation of upcoming designers how to tap into their creativity by finding inspiration in the world around them. It doesn’t matter if you are a painter, a chef, a seamstress, stylist, etc. Inspiration can be found in everything. This exhibition is able to draw the direct connection between the art of many incredible designers and their inspiration from Catholicism. Interesting enough, not all of these designers are Catholic.  “The majority of the designers featured in Heavenly Bodies were raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. While many of them no longer practice Catholicism and their relationships to it vary considerably, most acknowledge its significant influence over their imaginations.” Some where in Catholicism, these designers were able to find inspiration through something so powerful such as God, or a physical presence such as the stain-glass windows of their hometown church.

I am going to be sure to make an annual pilgrimage to New York City to see this exhibition. Heavenly Bodies was able to help me find my center once again. Not only did I find inspiration for my own art and fashion,  I felt inspired to just be myself again. While being myself I have the chance to just love and see the beauty in everyday life and that is really the point of our entire existence. Luckily for you, you still have time to have the same outer body experience. Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination is open to the public until October 8, 2018. The exhibitions are free with museum admission. I implore you to take advantage of this amazing opportunity, because this exhibition literally feels like heaven on Earth. I was so incredibly moved and I can’t wait until I can return.

About Spencer Williams 176 Articles
Spencer is a Designer, Event Planner, and Television Nerd in Los Angeles; not to be confused with his look-alike... Chris Pratt. When Spencer isn't talking about fashion, he spends most of his free time eating burgers, hoarding Funko Pop-Vinyls, and talking your ear off about Game of Thrones.

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