(8 May 2018) LEADIN:
Celebrities have turned out in Catholic inspired fashion for the annual Met Gala as an exhibition called "Heavenly Bodies" opens at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The exhibition traces the influence of Catholicism on fashion through the ages and includes pieces by Versace, Valentino and Gaultier.
It's one of the most anticipated red carpet events of the fashion calendar, and this year Madonna, Rita Ora and Jennifer Lopez all turned out for the annual Met Gala.
The event is a fundraiser for New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, which has just opened an exhibition called "Heavenly Bodies".
This year the Spring exhibition examines fashion's relationship with the traditions of Catholicism - and guests at the Gala dressed in Vatican inspired garments.
The show features tiaras encrusted with thousands of diamonds, emeralds and rubies. There are also Papal cloaks and vestments with golden embroidery which make up 42 items on loan from the Sistine Chapel's sacristy at the Vatican.
They are on display in the Anna Wintour Costume Centre.
"It's the largest show that the Met has staged. So it's 60,000 square feet. And it covers really the whole breadth of the museum from when you went to the museum to the very pinnacle of the museum," says Andrew Bolton curator of the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Outfits inspired by religious themes and created by names like Gianni Versace, Christian Lacroix, Valentino and Jean Paul Gaultier are also included in the show.
"Well, the Met gala is organized by Anna Wintour. And it's an extraordinary fund raiser for the Costume Institute, a charity event," adds Bolton.
"So, in a way we bask in the reflected glory of the gala. So it is a very symbiotic relationship but they're very different. You know it's very Church and State."
After viewing the Vatican collection in a separate wing of the museum, visitors wind upstairs to the Met's Byzantine and medieval rooms, home to many religious objects.
Garments have been strategically placed to show the relationship between, for example, a 12th-century gem-studded cross and a long-sleeved ensemble by Lacroix, emblazoned with a similar cross, studded with multicoloured crystals.
"The last time the Vatican lent such a huge amount to the Met was in 1983 or 85 I think, so it was over 20 years ago, so it's incredible that we were able to get the Vatican collection back at the museum," Bolton says.
"There's also a Papal tiara that is made up of 18,000 diamonds and 1,000 emeralds, sapphires and rubies which is a work of art in and of itself. And it ranges from dogmatics, chasubles, mantels, to tiaras, mitres, papal crosses."
"Heavenly Bodies" opens to the public on Thursday (10th May 2018) and runs until 8th October.
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