Friday, May 11, 2018

Jill Krementz covers "Heavenly Bodies" at the Met

The Met's entrance draped for its annual Gala.
May 10th-October 8, 2018

Andrew Bolton and Anna Wintour.
His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York.
This year, The Costume Institute's Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at The Met explores the dialogue between fashion and devotional art featuring exquisite papal robes and accessories, along with more than 150 high-fashion ensembles from the last 100 years.

Liturgical garments from the Sistine Chapel Sacristy are on exhibition in the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Encompassing more than 15 papacies from the 18th to the early 21st century, these 40 ecclesiastical masterworks (many of which have never been seen outside the Vatican) include papal vestments and accessories, such as rings and tiaras.

In addition to The Vatican Collection, there are multiple presentations in the Museum's Medieval Department illustrating how 20th-century and contemporary designers have interpreted centuries of Church tradition.

Pieces by Thom Browne, Coco Chanel, Cristobal Balenciaga, Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace, John Galliano for the House of Dior, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and other innovators illuminate the profound influences of devotional motifs and practices.

Andrew Bolton has organized the exhibition with the help of colleagues in the Met's Medieval Department.

The Press Preview on Monday, May 7th was attended by Anna Wintour, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Donatella Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Thom Browne, as well as honorary co-chairs and benefactors Christine & Stephen Schwarzman.
Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman, who generously donated five million dollars in support of the exhibition.
Andrew Bolton being interviewed by E!'s Zanna Roberts Rassi.
Henri Matisse
CHASUBLE, ca. 1950

Ivory silk faille with appliqué of yellow and green silk satin, green silk shantung, and black silk velvet. In the 1950s, when Matisse was commissioned to design the interior for the Chapel du Rosaire in Vence, France, he also created six chasubles. Their bold appliqués emulate the forms of his signature paper cutouts, and their colorways correspond to the liturgical calendar.

This is one of my favorite pieces and is easily missed as it is mounted on the stairwell leading down to THE VATICAN EXHIBITION in the Anna Wintour Gallery.

Italian, ca. 2000–2005

White wool twill and silk moiré embroidered with polychrome silk; red leather and suede
Color serves to mark the liturgical calendar and to indicate hierarchy within the Catholic Church. White, a color synonymous with purity and divine revelation, is reserved for specific rites (including Christmas and Easter) and for the everyday dress of the pope.

This ensemble, worn by Saint John Paul II, includes the zimarra (a caped version of the long soutane or cassock worn by all levels of the prelate), fascia (belt), and zucchetto (a skullcap of eight segments that terminate with a loop of cord). The fascia bears his papal coat of arms, featuring a tiara and the keys of heaven, as well as a blue shield decorated with a cross and the letter M for the Virgin Mary. Just as the soutane is worn beneath ceremonial dress, the zucchetto is worn beneath papal headwear.
The color red has been reserved for papal footwear for centuries.

Saint John Paul II wore this pair, produced by the Italian shoemaker Loredano Apollini, during the last years of his pontificate. Their color signifies the blood of Christ's Passion and of Catholic martyrs, as well as the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which marks the birth of the church.
THE KEYS OF SAINT PETER (KEYS OF HEAVEN), GIVEN TO LEO XIII (reigned 1878– 1903); Italian, 1903
Silver and gilt silver

In the rite of papal coronation, the new pope is presented with a pair of keys: the gold one signifies his power to open the doors of heaven, and the silver one his power to open the doors of the earth. The symbolism traces back to Saint Peter, the first pope, upon whom Christ bestowed the keys of heaven. Made by the silversmith G. Landi, these keys were a gift from the diocese of Ferrara on the 25th anniversary of Leo XIII's consecration as pope.

CHASUBLE OF PIUS XI (reigned 1922–39)
French, 1926; Gold silk brocade embroidered with gold metal and polychrome silk thread

This garment was made by the Poor Clare Sisters of the Monastery of Saint Clare of the Sacred Heart, in Mazamet, France, and presented to the pope by the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor on the seven hundredth anniversary of Saint Francis of Assisi's death. The front neckline depicts Mary, Mother of God, welcomed into heaven by angels and saints; just below is an image of Pius XI proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Both sides of the chasuble are subdivided into panels that show episodes from the life of Saint Francis and scenes of Franciscan friars conducting missionary work around the world. Its edges are embroidered with small portraits of Franciscan saints and martyrs.

CHALICE OF LEO XIII (reigned 1878–1903)
French, 1887; Gold, blue enamel, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and semiprecious stones.

The Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary of Madrid gave this chalice to Leo XIII on the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination as a priest. The upper part features a tempietto, or small chapel, with gold statuettes of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The chalice was used more recently by Pope Benedict XVI, including in the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, 46th World Day of Peace, held at Saint Peter's Basilica on January 1, 2013.

German and Spanish, 1854
Cloth of silver embroidered with gold metal thread, gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls

This tiara was a gift from Queen Isabella II of Spain to Pius IX as a sign of her respect for the Holy Father and devotion to the Holy See (or, according to a more recent interpretation, as reparation for the Spanish government's anticlerical laws). Weighing almost three pounds, the magnificent tiara includes about nineteen thousand precious stones, the majority of which are estimated to be diamonds. Made in Germany by the jewelers C. Goettig and W. Deibel, it was fitted in Madrid by Carlo Pizzala, jeweler of the royal house of Bourbon. Pius IX first wore it for Christmas Day Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica in 1854.
Thom Browne, who is among the many designers included in the exhibition.

To his right:

STOLE OF LEO XIII (reigned 1878–1903)
Italian, ca. late 19th century
White silk gros des Tours embroidered with polychrome silk, gold, and silver metal thread.

Probably Italian, 20th century
White silk knit embroidered with gold thread.

French, early 19th century
White silk-satin embroidered with gold silk and metal thread, and precious stones.

This selection from different papacies illustrates the essential accessories worn during liturgical celebrations. The mitre is the most formal version of pontifical headwear in active use today. The example here was a gift from Wilhelm II, emperor of Germany and king of Prussia, on the fiftieth anniversary of Leo XIII's ordination as a priest (which coincided with the year of Wilhelm's coronation). The stole features Leo XIII's crest (only the pope may ornament a liturgical stole with his coat of arms), along with the Lamb of God standing atop the book of seven seals. The Christogram "IHS," an abbreviation of the Greek spelling of Jesus, appears frequently on liturgical gloves (or papal gauntlets). As with gloves, papal slippers are produced in the traditional colors of red, green, and white to match the vestments. Historically, a cross motif could decorate the footwear of only the Pope, and the devout would kiss his feet directly on the cross.
Cardinal Dolan, Stephen Schwarzman, Daniel Weiss (The Met’s President and CEO), Andrew Bolton, Anna Wintour, Donatella Versace, and Jean Paul Gaultier in their front row seats ... or should I say “their pew."
His eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan Archbishop of New York reminds us that the Pope wore Prada — referring to Pope Benedict's famous red shoes.
Andrew Bolton: "'Heavenly Bodies' features the work of designers who for the most part were raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. While their current relationships to Catholicism vary, most acknowledge its enduring influence on their imaginations. On the surface, this influence is expressed through explicit Catholic imagery and symbolism as well as references to specific garments worn by the clergy and religious orders."

British Milliner Stephen Jones has collaborated with Balenciaga, Raf Simons, Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garçons, Marc Jacobs, and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others.
Irene Ogo is with Donatella Versace and Christine Schwarzman.
Anna Wintour, wearing a gold dress adorned with a silver cross, and Steve Schwarzman.
Hamish Bowles.
Stephen Jones and Thom Browne. Wayne Lawson, who has recently retired from Vanity Fair.
Francesco Macchia, Marc Rosen, and Susan Gutfreund enjoying the buffet breakfast at the Temple of Dendur.

Alexander McQueen; "Ensemble" spring/summer 1999; Birch plywood and ivory leather; ivory wool twill, and ivory silk lace

This "angel" by Alexander McQueen was inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement and explored the tension between man and machine. Those opposites are at once revealed and resolved in this piece, made from machine-cut, hand-punched strips of plywood that have been shaped and finished by hand.

In this way, McQueen's "angel" examines the distance between the pre-industrial age and the industrial age.

In the Roman Catholic Church, color is used to differentiate communities of women religious. Brown is generally associated with the Franciscans and Carmelites, white with the Cistercians and Augustinians, and black with the Dominicans. The habit of the last — which typically comprises a black tunic, scapular, and veil, and a white underveil, bandeau, and wimple worn over the tunic and scapular — is perhaps the most identifiable and recognizable.

This is in part, due to its strong graphic appeal, but arguably more because of its frequent depictions in popular culture: it is the habit worn by Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story (1959), Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965), and Whoopie Goldberg in Sister Act (1992). These portrayals have elevated the figure of the Dominican nun to an almost mythic status in the collective imagination.

Thom Browne designed the three black Dominican-style dresses on display.

Dolce & Gabbana (Italian, founded 1985)
"IDAMANTE" ENSEMBLE, spring/summer 2016 alta moda Black double wool crepe and black silk grosgrain

Most designers cite the veil or the color black (sometimes with white) when invoking the habit of the Dominican nun. The designers also imbue the habit with their signature precision tailoring, delicate lines.

House of Moschino (Italian, founded 1983) Rossella Jardini (Italian, born 1952)

ENSEMBLE, spring/summer 2014
Black and white synthetic crepe and white cotton canvas

Rossella Jardini is known for her tongue-in- cheek theatricality. In this ensemble, her playfulness is expressed in the veil that recalls the iconic white-winged headdress (cornette) of the Daughters of Charity, popularized by Sally Fields in the 1960s television series The Flying Nun.

With its starched and folded wings, the cornette became a much beloved symbol of the order—so much so that when French statesman Charles de Gaulle was informed that the Sisters of Charity were changing their headdress to a soft veil (allegedly designed by Christian Dior) in the 1960s, he declared: "One might as well suggest changing the French flag!"

The opulence of this dress by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino recalls the silk moiré great cape, or cappa magna, worn as choir dress by cardinals and bishops (in colors corresponding with rank) for particularly special and solemn liturgical occasions.

Made from red silk taffeta, the dress has a form that implies but does not quite equal the overblown proportions of the cappa magna, with its ten-foot-long train (it originally measured fifteen feet until 1952, when Pope Pius XII directed that it be shortened).

Thierry Mugler Ensemble;
Ivory silk taffeta and gold-painted feathers
The lavish materials and ornate embroidery of this haute couture ensemble by John Galliano for Christian Dior evoke the baroque splendor of the liturgical vestments.

Stylistically, it is based on the cope, a long cloak fastened at the chest with a clasp, and the mitre, a form of headdress reserved for bishops and the supreme pontiff. The embroidery required the combined efforts of the Maison Lesage and Broderies Vermont ateliers, which might explain the inscription on the back of the ensemble: "Dieu est mon Maitre" (God is my Master). Such an expression of the highly specialized skills of the haute couture is a reminder that fashion, not unlike the Roman Catholic Church, is defined by a system governed by hierarchy.


The essential garment for both daily and formal dress of the secular clergy is the cassock, or soutane. It became identified with the Church in the late twelfth century, when it was abandoned by the laity and adopted exclusively by the clergy. Topped with a white clerical collar, the floor-length, long-sleeved garment usually features 33 buttons, symbolic of the years of the life of Christ.

For daily dress, all members of the clergy (excluding the supreme pontiff) wear a black soutane trimmed in black silk, with rank chiefly denoted through the color of the sash (fascia) and skullcap (zucchetto). For formal dress, those colors are matched in the soutane's trimming.
The “Il Pretino” (Little Priest) dress was popularized by the actress Ava Gardner. Included in Sorelle Fontana’s autumn/winter 1956–57 collection as part of their “Cardinale” line, the dress is in fact based on a cardinal’s formal soutane trimmed with red silk.

“MADONNA” WEDDING ENSEMBLE, autumn/winter 2005–6 haute couture White silk tulle, embroidered white silk and metal thread; Dior Heritage Collection, Paris

In the celestial court, the Virgin Mary reigns as Queen of Heaven.

This design by Christian Lacroix was inspired by the tradition of the dressed Madonna, a practice especially associated with Holy Week festivities in Spanish-speaking countries. The look of the dress evokes the Baroque style popular in Spain, Portugal, and the Hispanic and Portuguese colonies from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth century.

Known for his elaborate "Madonna" wedding dresses that invoke the concept of the "virgin bride," Lacroix commented: "Every bridal gown, somewhere between the robes of a saint and a traditional Neapolitan costume, seems to me to contain a trace of those vanished memories, religious and superstitious, solemn and garish, mirage-like and forever fixed."

Erik Maza is the Style Features Director of Town & Country” magazine.
In this ensemble, Jean Paul Gaultier pairs his signature corset-girdle (after turn-of-the- twentieth-century styles) with an eighteenth-century-inspired chemise dress, and a fifteenth-century-inspired sleeve of plate armor to evoke the medieval martyr Joan of Arc. Burned at the stake on May 30, 1431, for her role in the Hundred Years War, Joan was declared a national symbol of France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
This ensemble by Thierry Mugler, titled “Madonna,” served as the finale to his ten-year-anniversary collection, staged at Le Zénith, an indoor arena in Paris. The model Pat Cleveland wore it as she was lowered from the ceiling of the auditorium on a cloud of dry ice, as if descending from heaven. Its placement here emphasizes links to ascension and particularly the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, which asserts that her body and soul were assumed into heavenly glory at her life’s end.
The color of the dress refers to another dogma: the Immaculate Conception, or the belief that the Virgin Mary was born free from the stain of original sin. In artistic representations (especially after 1854, when Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma), she often wears a white tunic with a blue mantle.
Riccardo Tisci;

Blue silk jacquard and gold metal passementerie, embroidered Swarovski crystals and gold metal thread and beads, ivory silk faille, embroidered polychrome crystals, gold paillettes, and metal studs

Riccardo Tisci created this ensemble for the statue of Our Lady of Graces in Palagianello, Italy, basing it on the original ensemble created by the Sisters of the Order of the Poor Benedictine Cassinesi of Lecce.

Tisci worked closely with the textile manufacturer Lorma, the embroiderer Jato, and the Semprini workshop for ecclesiastical vestments to re-create and refine the earlier design. The resulting hand-dyed and hand-embroidered garments required three thousand hours of labor to complete—the kind of expenditure that, in 1530, led to a papal decree declaring such lavishness immoral and indecent.
As the mother of Jesus Christ, The Virgin Mary was central to medieval religious belief and practice. The twelfth and thirteenth centuries witnessed an extraordinary growth of the cult of the Virgin. She was worshipped as the Bride of Christ and queen of heaven, as well as the personification of the Church and intercessor for the salvation of mankind.

Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936–2008)
Goossens (French, founded 1950).

STATUARY VESTMENT FOR THE VIRGIN OF EL ROCÍO, ca. 1985; Gold silk brocade with white and pink silk satin, gold silk and metal Chantilly lace, gold metal with polychrome crystals and pearls
This ensemble, created for a statue of the Virgin in the Chapelle Notre-Dame de Compassion in Paris, includes a gold silk brocade dress and mantle made in the workrooms of Yves Saint Laurent and a tiara and accessories created in collaboration with the jeweler Goossens. It was commissioned by Father Jean-Louis Ducamp following a request by Henri d'Orléans, Count of Paris, to install a copy of the Virgin of El Rocío in the chapel.

The original, which dates to the sixteenth century and is housed at the Hermitage of El Rocío, Spain, was venerated by the count's grandmother, a native of Seville. According to legend, the Virgin's wooden form was discovered in the trunk of a tree that grew on the site where the hermitage is located.

House of Chanel "AUBAZINE" NECKLACE, 2014 18-karat white gold, diamonds, Tahitian and South Sea cultured pearls

The title of this necklace refers to the orphanage at the Aubazine Abbey, where Gabrielle Chanel was educated. Its design of pearls and diamonds reflects the rosary's five decades (groups of ten beads) and ten Hail Marys.

Although Chanel claimed not to be religious, she carried in her pocket a holy card of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (popularly known as "The Little Flower of Jesus").

Christian Lacroix
"GOLD-GOTHA" ENSEMBLE, Black silk-wool gabardine, black silk chiffon, embroidered polychrome crystals, gold seed beads, and gold and purple metallic synthetic leather

The cross—symbol of Christ's Passion and sign of the Christian faith—was ubiquitous in the Byzantine world. While styles and forms varied, one of the most valued was the crux gemmata, or jeweled cross. Christian Lacroix has embellished and emboldened this jacket with an extravagant version.

It includes more than one hundred brightly colored crystals and seed beads applied to gold leather incised and punched to resemble engraving and repoussé, techniques often used in jeweled crosses.

Anna Wintour famously featured the Christian Lacroix jacket on her first cover for American Vogue, after being appointed its editor in 1988. The Israeli model Michaela Bercu, wearing her own stone cut jeans by Guess, was photographed by Peter Lindbergh and the story edited/styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele.

Photographer Eric Boman was on hand to re-photograph the "Gold-Gotha" installation — this time in its display case.
Jean Paul Gaultier
"EX-VOTO" EVENING ENSEMBLE; Gray silk mousseline, white silk-metal lace, crocheted gold and silver silk and iridescent crystals, appliquéd holograms and aluminum ex-votos
In this ensemble, titled “Ex-Voto,” Jean Paul Gaultier was inspired by Catholic examples of the practice of placing a votive offering—or ex-voto (from the Latin ex voto suscepto, “from the vow made”)—in a church or shrine, in thanksgiving for a miracle received. While the types and materials of ex-votos vary considerably, Gaultier has focused his attention on aluminum plaques of people and body parts, which are sewn onto the crocheted bodice of the dress in a pastiche of gratitude and devotion.

These plaques establish a formal and conceptual connection to the copper panels displayed along the templon above; both function as captivating testimonials of faith and compelling narratives for the faithful.

Dresses by Thierry Mugler (Silver silk lamé)
and Roberto Capucci (Gold and rose gold silk lamé.

"Angelo d'Oro (or Angel of Gold)" formed part of the 1987 collection Roberto Capucci presented at the Palazzo Venezia, a former residential papal palace. The dress asserts its celestial status through its color and its vestigial "wings."
One of the many beautiful headpieces.

Sandy Schreier is wearing a cross designed by Robert, a famous costume designer of the '60s.
Ms. Schreier, a couture collector, loaned two cuffs from her collection of 15,000 pieces to the Met's "Heavenly Bodies" exhibit.
In 1435, the Dominican community in Fiesole to which Fra Angelico belonged took possession of the convent of San Marco in Florence. Three years later, Cosimo de' Medici commissioned him to create frescoes for the cloister, the chapter house, the refectory, and the dormitory cells and corridors of the renovated convent.

These frescoes were the inspiration for a capsule couture collection by Kate and Laura Mulleavy for Rodarte creating a tonal variety that echoes the range of chalky hues.

"Lanvin blue" was the name Jeanne Lanvin gave to the color of her dress displayed in this gallery. Its "recipe" was specially developed by the designer's dye factories, and fiercely protected by Lanvin herself. It has been said that the color was produced as an homage to Fra Angelico.

However, its hue falls somewhere between the cobalt of Gothic stained- glass windows and the lapis lazuli of Angelico's blue-robed angels.
On the way out ... more wings.

You can purchase a pair of eagle-drop earrings in the Met's gift shop for $150.

Also available: an abundance of ecclestiastically-themed merchandise and, of course, the Exhibition Catalogue, Heavenly Bodies, by Andrew Bolton ($65).

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.