The guests were told to wear their Sunday best for this years Met Gala on Monday, May 7.
This time around, the Costume Institute chose a theme inspired by Catholicism with “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”
Celebrities took this as a recommendation and pushed the envelope with their appearances. This year’s exhibition theme brought divine embellishments and daring silhouettes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
From actress Lena Waithe’s LGBTQ pride flag-cape she wore draped over her shoulders, to Rihanna’s showstopping ensemble that looked as if it arrived straight from the Vatican, there was no shortage of bold looks when it came to the Met Gala’s red carpet.
The gala is known for bringing the most famous people in entertainment and fashion together to walk the extravagant red carpet, celebrate the grand opening of the newest Costume Institute exhibition and explore the artwork.
Since 1946, the event has raised money for the Met’s fashion art collection, run by the Costume Institute.
According to an article from The New York Times, once Anna Wintour took leadership over the gala in 1999, she’s turned it into one of the biggest celebrity parties each year.
Now, the gala raises millions of dollars with its A-list attendees and brings the public’s attention to each new exhibit.
Making the connection between religion and fashion is a touchy subject. As Vox put it, comparing the vestments of the pope to gowns from a runway show creates conflict between believers and non-believers.
Head curator of the Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, told Vogue he felt a sense of nervousness with relating religion to clothing and art exhibits.
Yet, the Vatican approved and sent 50 papal vestments to be placed in the Met’s newest installation.
The featured pieces in the exhibit, open to the public on May 10, include an embroidered white silk evening gown by John Galliano, a Christian Lacroix couture wedding gown, a Riccardo Tisci dress and a papal vestment dating back to 1133, among other designs.
Almost every contemporary designer chosen for the exhibit comes from a Catholic upbringing which was part of Bolton’s intention.
In Bolton’s words, “the show is about Catholic imagery, but fundamentally it’s about creativity and what drives creativity. In this case, it’s one’s religious upbringing.”
With designers like Dolce & Gabbana and John Galliano, religious upbringing has played a huge factor in their designs.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s dress and intricate nativity headpiece was created from sketches made by design team Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
The duo drew upon their devout Catholicism and the faith-inspired aesthetic that’s laden with symbolism. This look captured the essence of the “Heavenly Bodies” theme with its ornate gold details, heart adornments and the nativity headpiece.
Sarah Jessica Parker wasn’t the only guest to take the dress code up a few notches.
Rihanna seemed to borrow her ensemble right from the exhibit. Dressed in custom Margiela, she donned a fully beaded ensemble with a bishop hat, dress and flowing skirt.
This stunning look may come off as sacrilegious to some, but the singer is known for taking risks on and off the Met Gala carpet.
Donald Glover, actor and rapper, wore a simple brown tuxedo with black lapels and Gucci loafers. Once he turned away, the cameras caught the embellished “Eye of Providence” on the back of his suit jacket.
Once the red carpet was over, the celebrity guests went inside the museum to see the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit and enjoy a surprise performance from none other than Madonna.
The pop icon sang her hit “Like a Prayer” and closed with a haunting version of “Hallelujah,” performed on the Great Hall’s stairs.
The fashion at the Met Gala embraced the Catholic church’s symbolism and imagery. Despite criticism of the theme for being offensive, it showcased the beauty of the Catholic imagination while bending the rules.