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Everything you need to know about the exhibition behind this year’s Met Gala

Will Gleason

The Met’s new blockbuster Costume Institute exhibition is truly heaven on earth.

When the rich and famous descend on The Metropolitan Museum of Art Monday night for the annual glitzy Met Gala, they’ll be toasting the opening of a new exhibition at the museum that explores the intersection of fashion and Catholicism. (Hopefully, there will at least be some strict nuns patrolling the bathroom.)

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” officially opens to the public Thursday, May 10 and is located in galleries throughout the cultural institution. In fact, it's the museum’s largest in terms of square footage with items on display in the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the Robert Lehman Wing, the museum’s Medieval galleries and even all the way up at the Cloisters. Just like the eyes of god, you really can’t escape this show.

The items on display include approximately 50 ecclesiastical garments and accessories on loan from the Vatican and 150 designer garments that have been partially inspired by Catholic iconography and style. Some of the designers represented include Rick Owens, Lanvin, Viktor and Rolf, Thom Browne, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Rodarte and Dolce & Gabbana and Balenciaga (A group of Balenciaga choral robes displayed on a balcony in the Medieval Sculpture Hall make for a particularly striking moment.)

If you think that sounds like a lot—and it is—you may be surprised to hear that the show was originally meant to incorporate the influence of five major religions on fashion (Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Catholicism) before being narrowed down to just Catholicism. That singular focus still manages to provide a rich source of inspiration for the show, which also boasts fascinating historical objects, like a Tiara of Pius IX from 1854, in addition to the copious amount of flowing, angelic gowns.

You can stop by The Met Fifth Avenue and the Cloisters to check out the religious show for yourself post-gala through October 8. A catalog providing more context on the exhibition is also available for purchase.

Courtesy of Dior Heritage Collection, Paris. Digital composite scan by Katerina Jebb

Courtesy of Chapelle Notre-Dame de Compassion, Paris. Digital composite scan by Katerina Jebb

Courtesy of Maison Christian Lacroix, Paris. Digital composite scan by Katerina Jebb

Digital composite scan by Katerina Jebb

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