WHEN IN ROME: The opening of the “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is still a few months away, but organizers will stage a press preview Feb. 26 in Rome. The Met’s deputy director Carrie Rebora Barratt, The Costume Institute’s curator in charge Andrew Bolton, Anna Wintour and His Eminence Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi will be on hand for the warm-up event at Galleria Colonna.
The location of the preview in Italy is a spectacle in itself. The Roman Baroque Galleria Colonna was commissioned in the mid-1600s by Cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew, Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna. It was inaugurated by Onofrio’s son, Philip II, in 1700. The architect Antonio del Grande handled the original project, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Paolo Schor and Carlo Fontana enhanced it in the last decade of the 1600s.
The Costume Institute’s main event bows to the public in New York on May 10 and will run through Oct. 8. “Heavenly Bodies” will be housed in two locations — The Met’s Fifth Avenue museum and the Met Cloisters. “Heavenly Bodies” will juxtapose fashion and masterworks of religious art so that patrons will consider fashion’s ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism. The Met has arranged to showcase a group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican, highlighting the ongoing influence of liturgical vestments on designers. A myriad of designers — Thierry Mugler, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Azzedine Alaïa, John Galliano for the House of Dior, Claire McCardell, Madeleine Vionnet, Isabel Toledo, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons for his own label and the House of Dior — will have their work on view.
The exhibition is being made possible thanks to Christine and Stephen Schwarzman and Versace, as well as through additional support from Condé Nast.