The annual fashion exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute in New York is one of the most talked-about shows in the art calendar, while the launch party – a.k.a. the Met Gala – is one of the most glamorous red carpet events of the year. The theme of the upcoming exhibition, opening in May 2018, has just been revealed and it's set to make next year's event more of a talking point than ever before. According to WWD, 'fashion and religion' will be the theme of next year’s exhibition, focusing on the relationship between designers, devotion and divinity.
WWD reports that the idea was conceived before the current Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between show, which will close on 4th September. While planning for the exhibition is only just underway, sources say that the "serious and ambitious" project was thought up long ago.
At a time when political activism is prevalent on the catwalk as well as in the media, an exhibition about religion and fashion is both a pertinent and provocative choice of theme. Throughout fashion history, numerous designers and brands have incorporated religious iconography into their collections, from Riccardo Tisci, who revisited Christian motifs throughout his tenure at Givenchy, to Dolce & Gabbana's continued use of images of the Madonna and the crucifix. Back in 2007, Jean Paul Gaultier's spring couture collection featured trompe l'oeil stained glass windows, halos and gowns that resembled monastic robes. More recently, Christopher Kane's SS17 collection, which celebrated his 10th anniversary showing at LFW, included iconography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of his childhood school, Taylor High, in Scotland.
Designers have long drawn inspiration from religion, with overt references to deities or more subtle, tongue-in-cheek depictions of saints and sinners. And religion in fashion could not be discussed without mentioning Alexander McQueen's seminal autumn/winter show in 1996, entitled Dante. Held in the candlelit Christ Church in Spitalfields, with a crucifix-shaped catwalk and a soundtrack of organ music and gunfire, the show was accused of blasphemy but was also a key moment in the young designer's career, catapulting him to international acclaim.
While we can't wait to see how this theme will be brought to life in the exhibition, we're equally excited to see how the star-studded guest list will interpret the theme in their outfits for the Met Gala, which will be held on the first Monday in May (Monday 7th).
Previous themes for the Met Gala have been 'Punk: Chaos to Couture', 'Fashion in an Age of Technology' and 'China: Through the Looking Glass' but we're particularly intrigued to see how our favourite style stars will tackle the sensitive subject of religion in fashion come May.