The Met Gala is essentially fashion’s most important red carpet event of the year. Fashion’s most important editors, models, muses, and designers come together to celebrate fashion in all of its excess and glory. Headed by Vogue USA’s iconic editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala has hosted various themes over the years. Some of which include Alexander McQueen, Punk, The Ballet Russe, Christian Dior, and Royal Indian Costume. What sets the Met Gala apart from every other fashion event during the year is the boundless imagination one can use in either having an outfit created for the night or wearing a designer outfit that not only fits the theme but goes above and beyond it.
The Met has recently released their theme for 2018 and the final verdict is Fashion and Religion. The announcement has been met with some opposition and controversy, with many thinking that it would be highly inappropriate to present religion alongside something as trivial and superficial as fashion. However, countless designers have taken direct inspiration from religion as well as weaving religious iconography and imagery directly into their designs. Just like religious art, religious fashion is an art form that aims at showing the world exactly how different societies and classes view religion and, more importantly, religious institutions and their traditions.
As an avid fan and down right lover of the Met Gala, the announcement of each year’s theme is something that fills me with utter wonder and excitement, knowing that the Costume Institute’s curator-in-charge, Andrew Bolton (husband of famed Amercian designer Thom Browne) will create yet another outstanding exhibit that accurately and respectfully showcases fashion and its accompanying theme. In anticipation for the Gala, I started to brainstorm the theme, wrapping my head around what designers or collections would be the perfect fit for next year’s theme. A few designers came to mind and even more collections came to mind after that. So what better way is there to celebrate the newly announced theme than to create a list of perfect pieces for the upcoming Gala this spring.
Alexander McQueen — Dante / Angels & Daemons
A legend in life and in death, Lee Alexander McQueen was truly a 21st-century pioneer when it came to groundbreaking and boundary pushing design. Andrew Bolton’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met already showcased McQueen’s work. However, this time around, Bolton can take full liberty with exhibiting two of McQueen’s greatest collections. Dante and Angels & Daemons both showcase McQueen’s precision and unmatched expertise in design. On one hand, Dante depicts the darker, more indulgent side, wherein the pious hide behind masks of faith to justify their deeds, while Angels & Daemons paints a more realistic, yet completely closed off world where angels and their demonic counterparts reside.
Christian Lacroix — The Virgin Bride
Now, many years have passed since the heyday of Lacroix couture. But no matter the years, no one will ever be able to create a virgin bride the way Monsieur Lacroix did. The ornate mariée’s Christian created were always a staple of his couture collection. They usually strayed from the theme or the tone of the collection to present the image of a pristine woman, untouched by the evils and sins of the world. Apart from their sheer detail and grandeur, what makes Lacroix’s brides standout is the subtle nod to Eastern Orthodox brides, particularly the ornate and regal brides of Georgia.
Christian Dior — Ancient Egypt
The days of Galliano at Dior may be long gone, but the impact he had on the house and the fashion world, in general, can still be seen and felt to this day. There are very little designers in this day and age that have the gall to translate the many visual delights this planet has to offer, and none did it as successfully as Galliano did. Having covered almost every corner of the globe with his designs, it seemed as if Galliano would eventually run out of inspiration to base his collections on until he revealed this masterpiece after a trip to Egypt. Taking outrageous couture to the next level, Galliano unveiled a collection rooted deeply in the myths and legends of ancient Egpyt. Pharaohs and Gods walked the catwalk in gowns made of gold and jewels, perfectly conveying the dominance and extravagance of the ancient Egyptian empire. The most striking visuals in this collection came in the form of jackal heads that resembled Anubis, god of mummification and the afterlife.
Guo Pei — Il Vaticano
Guo Pei is the queen of extravagance and there is nowhere else in the world that is more extravagant than the all-powerful Vatican. It’s its own city, state, and country, and to top it all off, the Vatican even has its own law enforcement and bank. Representing the large population of Roman Catholics, the Vatican heads the largest group of Christians in the world. Some even suggest that the Vatican is the most powerful institution in the world, beating out the world’s most powerful governments. So it comes as no surprise that Guo Pei chose a powerhouse institute to pull inspiration from for her powerhouse brand.
Jean Paul Gaultier — Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows
Jean Paul Gaultier is a master couturier known for many things; cone bras, corsets, and nautical stripes all found their fame at the hand of Gaultier. However, one of his most underrated and outstanding collections has to be his spring 2007 couture show, where the shining hallowed glory of a sorrowful Virgin Mary was presented before the eyes of fashion’s finest. The gentle tears painted on the models’ faces created a visually stunning, yet spiritually familiar feeling, mirroring the crying statues of the Virgin Mary found in many Catholic churches around the world. But what really makes this collection breathtaking is the different incarnations of the Lady of Sorrows. There are hints of Latin American Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and European Christianity, showcasing the different views of within the various branches of Christianity.