The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Benefit, widely known as fashion’s biggest night, is looking to religion this year as its source of sartorial inspiration. The 2018 Met Gala theme, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination is a rumination on the influence that Catholicism has had on fashion as we know it.
While some may consider the Met Gala’s theme to be daring or controversial, fashion has never shied away from holding anything as too sacred. From Madonna’s affinity for crucifixes as accessories to Lady Gaga’s avant-garde take on a nun’s habit for her 2011 Monster Ball tour, here’s a look back on 15 iconic fashion moments that were inspired by Catholicism and its aesthetics.
In pop culture and the red carpet, there are few figures more closely associated with religion — and controversy — than Madonna. From her moniker to her love of a good crucifix accessory, Madge’s fixation on Catholicism (the religion she was raised in) has been a big part of her brand. Many point to her infamous 1989 music video for “Like a Prayer” (which featured stigmata, burning crosses, and a kiss between a saint and a very La Dolce Vita-esque Madonna in a black lace slip dress) as being Madonna’s most polarizing allusion to Catholicism and for good reason — the American Family Association boycotted it and led to Pepsi being cancelled.
However, Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” controversy was nothing compared to the backlash that she received during her 2006 Confessions a spokesperson for the Vatican called her concert “an act of open hostility” and suggested that she be excommunicated.a bohemian ensemble by Jean Paul Gaultier tour, where she wore (the designer responsible for her infamous cone bra) while hanging from a mirrored cross and sporting a fake crown of thorns. After she extended an invite to her concert in Rome to the Pope, a spokesperson from the Vatican denounced the concert as “an act of open hostility” and suggested that she should be excommunicated.
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