On the heels of this year’s Comme des Garcons-themed affair, planning for the May 2018 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition is underway. Rumors swirled earlier this year that the Costume Institute would take on the theme of religion, and now, the New York Times has confirmed that the title of the highly-anticipated 2018 fashion exhibition will be “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”

According to the Times, the exhibition – over which the Costume Institute’s curator Andrew Bolton began conversations with the Vatican in 2015 – will consist of “50 or so ecclesiastical garments and accessories on loan from the Vatican, multiple works from the Met’s own collection of religious art and 150 designer garments that have been inspired by Catholic iconography or style.”

Among the brands whose garments will be included, “these range from the obvious (Versace and Dolce & Gabbana icons) to the more unexpected (a Chanel wedding gown inspired by a communion dress, Valentino couture gowns inspired by Francisco di Zurbarán’s paintings of monk’s robes). It will be the department’s largest show to date.”

Interestingly, Versace is sponsoring the exhibit, “which makes sense given the brand’s incorporation of Catholic iconography into its vernacular.” 

Fashion’s Biggest Night

Under the direction of Conde Nast’s artistic director Anna Wintour, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala, which takes place the night before the exhibition’s opening to the public, has become the undisputed event of the year on the New York social schedule and has raised more than $145 million for the Costume Institute (the party funds its operating budget in its entirety) to date. 

Attendees, who are all pre-approved by Wintour and have included everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, and Rihanna to Gisele, Madonna, the Olsen twins, Kim and Kanye, and every major designer you can think of, pay $25,000 for an individual ticket or commit to a minimum $275,000 for a table of 10.

Each Met Gala has a theme that coincides with an exhibit at the Costume Institute. Years ago it was Savage Beauty and coincided with the posthumous and recording-breaking Alexander McQueen exhibit. Since then, themes have been PUNK: Chaos to Couture; Charles James: Beyond Fashion; China: Through the Looking Glass, which entailed an exhibit that explored the Chinese impact on Western fashion; and most recently, the gala and exhibit honored Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and her brand, Comme des Garçons.

Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman (Mr. Schwarzman is chairman of Blackstone, the private equity group that acquired a 20 percent stake in Versace in 2014) will be honorary chairs of the 2018 gala, along with Anna Wintour, the artistic director of Condé Nast and a museum trustee; Donatella Versace; Amal Clooney; and Rihanna.