It is the world of Catholicism, its sacred images, jeweled objects, rituals, and customs, and the way in which their aesthetics have come to shape modern fashion, which the new exhibition 'Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination' at the Costume Institute of the Met comes to explore. The Met's medieval and Byzantine collections provide its backdrop and context, as so a group of papal robes and accessories on loan from the Vatican. The iconography and richness have come to provide the inspiration for a fascinating intersection of religion and fashion, resulting in stunning and at time innovative pieces by such designers as Azzedine Alaïa, Cristobal Balenciaga, Geoffrey Beene, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli, and dozens more. The theme has a potential for a great, beautiful, inspiring show. However, when you arrived to the exhibition and try to comprehend the narrative, which is complex to begin with, you are forced into a great confusion. The visitors are lead to make their way through various galleries that are not adjacent to one another: The show begins at the Anna Wintour Costume Center, then continues at the Byzantine and medieval galleries, the Robert Lehman Wing, and those who want to see it in its full, have to travel ten miles away to the Met Cloisters. How hard to enjoy an exhibition this way when you are not sure whether this piece or another belongs to the show or to the permanent exhibition, and when you are wondering around the enormous museum, trying to make your way to its next part. The experience which should be enjoyable and educating has turned into a confusing and frustrating journey. Even the wonderful design by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and the fantastic mannequin headpieces by Shay Ashual could not have saved it. All images courtesy Met Museum.
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