The Met Gala is a fashion show sponsored by well-known New York City fashion and lifestyle magazine, Vogue. Next year’s controversial theme, titled “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” imagines the marriage of fashion and religion.
Grace Mayes, sophomore political science major at John Brown University, stated, “I think that, if it were done well, fashion and religion as a theme could stir up some well-needed conversation about the beauty of each religion and religious tolerance.”
“However, I’m wary of the theme because I feel that it probably will not be done well and will be yet another time for white celebrities to dabble in cultural insensitivity and appropriation.” Mayes noted.
The theme of fashion and religion stirs up major conflict between those from diverse religions and countries as religion is a sensitive topic. Haven Brown, junior art and illustration major, said, “I don’t feel like a fashion show has enough power to make that big of an impact on the topic.” The Independent, an international newspaper founded in the United Kingdom, disagrees: “Christianity will inevitably take center-stage as the most ‘iconic’ according to fashion’s exclusive hierarchy. In order to meet more of the different cultures, Met Gala will need to evenly produce products that resemble each culture and religion.”
Celebrities try to relate to fans from various backgrounds. Lady Gaga donned a pink burqa, an outer covering worn daily by modest Islamic women, to promote her album “Art Pop.” However, Gaga has historically exposed more flesh than adherents to Islam traditionally approve, risking offense toward the same Islamic women whom she emulates.
In 2016, Dolce and Gabbana, an Italian luxury fashion house, released their Bible-inspired fall collection, featuring the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus in jumpers, pants and dresses.
Kate Herschend, JBU nursing student, stated, “The only positives I see in fashion and religion would be that it’s an easy opportunity to start a conversation about the Lord,” Regarding religious symbolism, Herschend added, “I also believe it could upset people if the emblem was placed on the wrong spot of the outfit.”
“Overall, I’m not sure that I necessarily see the religion as a whole represented on the runway,” Mayes said. “I think the designs could show the beauty of Creation, but that is starkly contrasted with the modeling industry and how judgmental and unhealthy it is for models. It’s a mix.” The 2018 Met Gala will have difficulty pleasing all religions with the theme of fashion and religion. “I would say I do not see Christianity on the runway at all,” Brown said. “I honestly see the opposite. The body being a temple is not shown by what you wear or how much you eat. In the Bible, it states ‘Do not judge a person by their outer appearance,’ but in fashion shows that’s all you do.”
The event, hosted by Vogue, opens April 30, 2018.