When I read that this year’s theme for the Met Gala was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination this was my reaction (and that of many others):
That’s to say I expected at least a few fairly controversial looks … for the most part, though, that wasn’t the case. There are always some questionable decisions being made on the Met Gala red carpet; It’s an event designed around taking fashion risks, after all, and usually the worst offenders are those who didn’t even bother to try to fit the theme.
The same was true this year, but with the added wrinkle of “wait, how does this relate to Catholicism again?” For instance, since when do floral prints equal piety? Amal Clooney in Richard Quinn and Huma Abedin in Giambattista Valli each looked amazing, but the Catholic connection of their dresses was lost on me.
That said, there were a few interpretive trends of Catholicism’s impact on fashion to be seen: Zendaya and Michelle Williams gave nods to the Crusades, Chadwick Boseman, Cassie and Diddy, and Greta Gerwig went the vestments route, and there were plenty of homages to Mary, halos, and angelic imagery.
So, with an emphasis on the great, let’s review:
Blake Lively in Versace, Jimmy Choo and Lorraine Schwartz
In Catholicism, red can represent a few things (per my research), among them The Passion, martyrdom, Pentecost, and various feasts. I don’t know if any of this was Lively’s inspiration, or if she was just like “Versace!”, but it worked.
Lena Waithe in Carolina Herrera
Capes — a decidedly Papal fashion choice, by some standards — were a big trend on the red carpet and Waithe’s wool suit with a silk rainbow cape overlay was, in my opinion, the best of the best.
Lily Collins in Givenchy Haute Couture and Cartier jewelry; crown by Clare Waight Keller
Collins gave a nod to the darker imagery of religion in a black ensemble with make-up inspired by “stigmata and tears of virgins,” according to her stylist.
Kate Bosworth in Oscar de la Renta
Swoon – this look is so Princess Grace, and it’s on-theme in an ethereal, Spanish mantilla kind of way.
Ariana Grande — yes on the dress, no on the bow. Keep trying though.
Saint Laurent, who dressed several gala-goers with cool, form-fitting looks. The label name seemed like the only themed aspect for most ensembles, but I was ok with it.