The rumors were true: next year’s Met Gala theme will indeed focus on fashion and religion—and more specifically, Catholicism. The museum today confirmed that the Costume Institute’s Spring 2018 exhibition will be called Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, and will feature robes and accessories from the Vatican (some of which have never even left the Roman Catholic Church’s headquarters) alongside religion-inspired garments by the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo, Donatella Versace, and more. The exhibit will officially open on May 10, with the annual Gala—fashion’s Oscars, if you will—taking place on May 7.
“Fashion and religion have long been intertwined,” Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton said in a statement. “Although this relationship has been complex and sometimes congested, it has produced some of the most inventive and innovative creations in the history of fashion.”
Complex indeed. Not since 2015, when the theme was China: Through the Looking Glass, has the Met stirred so much controversy. Aside from the obvious fact that religion is always a tricky and controversial topic, the theme comes at a time when tensions within the Catholic Church are high, and our country is becoming increasingly divided under the Trump administration, which often panders to the religious far-right. Plus, New York City has one of the largest Catholic populations in the country. The New York Times called it a “risky move,” but one that Bolton, who reportedly consulted with various Catholic groups, hopes will inspire constructive dialogue. “It’s important to have ideas that are a reflection of contemporary interests that strike a chord or are synergistic with the collective consciousness,” he told the paper.
While the famously nonmaterialistic Pope Francis is apparently not involved, Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, will be extended an invitation to attend the star-studded opening event. (And in that case, you can be damn sure no one’s going to be smoking in the bathroom this year.) Set to be hosted by Amal Clooney, Donatella Versace, and Rihanna, the latter of whom we can only hope will show up in some sort of jaw-dropping and somehow non-offensive nun-inspired getup, the first Monday in May is sure to be interesting as—for lack of a better word—hell.