Fashion and religion were inextricably joined at the annual Costume Institute Gala Benefit 2018 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Celebrities shimmered on the red carpet

Celebrities and A-listers strutted their "Heavenly Bodies" on the red carpet. Katy Perry enchanted with a 6-foot set of angel wings and shimmering chainmail Versace mini-dress, while Rihanna donned a papal crown and Sarah Jessica Parker topped it off with a nativity scene headpiece to complement her Dolce & Gabbana gown.

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The invitation-only, $30,000 per ticket fundraiser, orchestrated by Vogue’s Anna Wintour, is the primary source of funding for The Costume Institute. Honorary event chairs included Donatella Versace, Rihanna, and Amal Clooney. Blackstone CEO and founder Stephen Schwarzman and his wife Christine were sponsors and Honorary Chairs.

Heavenly Bodies' debut at The Met

The gala also coincides with The Met’s latest spring exhibit, "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination." The exhibition explores how Catholicism has shaped the creativity of fashion designers who grew up Catholic.

While previewing it before the gala, I caught up with Head Curator Andrew Bolton and asked if there was a common thread or inspiration among the Catholic designers in this current exhibit. “The fact that the designers were born and raised Catholic, most seemed to approach their design process through storytelling, which is an essential part of the Catholic imagination. He also noted that there are some provocative designs." Balenciaga, for example, is a devout Catholic, and absolute respect is reflected in his designs.

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However, for the majority, it is more nostalgia than provocation in this collection.”

Heavenly Bodies is spread out over four galleries at the Metropolitan Museum, as well as Uptown at The Met Cloisters. There are more than 150 designs from the early 20th century to the present. Some of the designers include Azzedine Alaia, Cristobal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Donatella Versace, Elsa Schiaparelli, Rodarte, Raf Simmons, and Moschino, to name just a few.

Masterworks from the Vatican showcased

Also included are 40 ecclesiastical masterworks from the Sistine Chapel that have never been outside of the Vatican. These masterworks include papal vestments, rings, and tiaras. A sponsor of the exhibit, and devout Catholic, Christine Schwarzman told me that “everything is quite profound and inspiring, but I was most moved by the papal vestments that are on loan from the Vatican.”

I caught up with designer Thom Brown, who is also showcased in this exhibit and asked if he thought some visitors might be offended by this major undertaking that is Catholic-centric.

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“I hope everyone just comes here and enjoys such a profoundly special and important show.” Amen to that, Thom!

You can make the pilgrimage to "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning May 10 through October 8, 2018.

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