The First Monday of May has come and gone in a flash. This year's Met Gala opens the exhibit Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. For most folks, the red carpet is the best part. But not for me my friend. When I watch the red carpet, though I do enjoy seeing the creations and interpretations of the theme, I just get tired for those folks. I mean, isn't a million flashbulbs coming at you and people critiquing your outfit and make up and hair and body sound like a total nightmare? I guess partying with Anna Wintour and Amal Clooney would make it worthwhile, but would I be allowed to wear flats and leave early? See, attending the Met Gala is not very Ammachic. Spending hours wandering the exhibits, however, is right up my alley.
In anticipation for what is the largest exhibit by the Costume Institute to date, I've decided to pair my favorite red carpet looks with a particular work of art that falls in the arena of Catholic. The Catholic Church was, probably from Medieval times, through the Renaissance, up until the Reformation, the biggest patron of the arts. We wouldn't have Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, and Brunelleschi without the deep pockets of St. Peter's throne. Since this exhibit is to pay homage on how the rituals, robes, and architecture of Catholicism inspired the imaginations of designers and the looks they sent down the runway straight into our closets at home, it seemed apropos to see if any of the red carpet looks found similar inspiration.
1. Sienna Miller + Lucrezia Borgia
Sienna Miller took a simplistic, yet incredibly stylish approach in Louis Vuitton. The chain-mail like skirt and the foliage inspired tiara made me think of this portrait of Lucrezia Borgia by Bartolomeo Veneto. The blonde curls, the simple white paired with a metal edge, there definitely is a mutual vibe present. Lucrezia Borgia was a scandalous figure in her day. She was the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI and held power and wealth in her own right. History tends to paint her as a pawn, but I would argue she was quite wily. Pope Alexander had her painted in multiple frescos in churches throughout Rome because he thought she was so beautiful and the perfect representation of a cherub. This particular portrait shows more her powerful side, which I like. There is something deliciously sinister of her holding a cross that has a dagger-like end, dripping blood. Likewise, Ms. Miller gives us both soft and hard, mischievous and angelic. This is a look I love and a piece I adore.
2. Rihanna + Pope Alexander VI
I sincerely believe that if Rihanna and Pope Alexander VI were to have tea...oh, who are we kidding? If those two got together for a cocktail, the sheer level of ambition, good taste, and ability of execution would just shatter us all. Truly. I would expect nothing less for Rih Rih to roll up in the most irreverent, exaggerated, bedazzled papal outfit possible. I mean, if Alex saw her, he would definitely approve. He is the reason we have the Sistine Chapel and the St. Peter's Basilica that we know today. He discovered Michelangelo and had the brilliance to see his genius when no one else would deign to work with him. In many ways, he was the Anna Wintour of his day (or Anna is the Pope Alexander of her's). He was not a minimalist and had a love for jewels and clothing. He openly had a mistress and proudly showed off his children. He also bribed his way into the papacy, but hey, Sistine Chapel folks, so let's not be too harsh in judgment. He was unapologetic and a visionary, much like Rihanna. Many never thought he'd amount to much, considering he was Spanish and not the prerequisite Italian like all the popes before him. Like him, Rihanna, a 16 year old from Barbados, built an empire nobody could have seen coming. They both have gumption and never shy away from a diamond, so naturally, a match made in heaven.
3. Ariana Grande + La Donna Velata
All the organza in these two images just make me happy (I'm currently in an organza-obsessed phase). Ariana Grande floated on the red carpet with this dreamy Vera Wang gown covered in, what I am guessing, frescoes from the Sistine Chapel. I appreciate the modern take on the modest head covering that all good Catholic ladies of yore. La Donna Velata is a masterpiece of Raphael's. The reason I love Raphael so much is how he portrays women. Whether it be a woman of wealth or Mother Mary, he manages to give them this spark, this alluring quality where you are just drawn to them. The same can be said for Ms. Grande's voice, which is hypnotizing. It never fails to blow me away when that tiny little person just belts out this glorious voice. I mean, if we wanted to hear her in Catholic Church, she'd have to be disguised as boy. It would be worth it to give those Gregorian chants some pizzazz.
4. Priyanka Chopra + The Jersey Portrait
I am not going to say that Queen Katherine Parr was the direct inspiration for Priyanka Chopra's Ralph Lauren column velvet gown's with that drama train, but the resemblance is uncanny. Queen Katherine was Henry VIII's last and lucky wife; she was lucky because she did not get beheaded or divorced. This portrait was always a favorite of mine because of the lusciousness and extravagance of it. The velvet, the jewels, *swoon*. Priyanka's look is also sumptuous and glam; I especially adore the dripping-in-jewels headdress. I can't say the two of these ladies have much in common except their intelligence. Queen Katherine became the Consort of a man who killed his former wives for petty charges, a pretty questionable decision if you ask me. Henry VIII was notoriously unstable and yet, she became his confidante and earned his trust. Priyanka's decision to enter Hollywood, especially when she is at the height of her career in Bollywood, was also a confusing one. Yet, both of them, with their sharp intelligence in tow, succeeded.
5. Winnie Harlow + Elizabeth of Southwell
As soon as I saw Winnie Harlow's Tommy Hilfiger creation on the red carpet, I just had an uncanny feeling I've seen it before. After hunting through my old Tudor Art History books (yes, I own a few) I located this portrait of Elizabeth of Southwell. She was Queen Elizabeth I favorite lady-in-waiting till she fell for the love of the Queen's life and did what the Queen couldn't do: marry him. I know, Bess violated girl code, big time. Of course, Winnie would never dream to do that to her model squad I'm sure. I mean, she's wearing all white! One does not take such a risk unless one is sure no wine will be tossed at her in anger (this is a lesson I learned from all of the Real Housewives franchises).
6. Kate Bosworth & Rosie Huntington + St. Clare of Assisi Fresco
These two probably had the most angelic look of the evening, with Kate Bosworth in Oscar De La Renta and Rosie Huntington in Ralph Lauren. They immediately reminded me of this fresco piece of St. Clare of Assisi in the St. Francis of Assisi church. The golden and the cream combo in net and sparkles is always a safe bet when one is trying to go angelic. I guess I just find this a bit funny because St. Clare is obviously known for her chastity and monastic living, while Kate and Rosie are considered beauties with a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle. I appreciate a good fashion irony, don't you?
7. Greta Gerwig + St. Catherine of Sienna
Greta Gerwig is a favorite of mine. I've followed her since I stumbled upon Frances Ha! on Netflix (def worth a watch for a tongue-in-cheek critique of hipster millennials). She is witty, quirky, and an amazing observer of the modern age. Her films capture and critique simultaneously, but not so much in your face, but more so you end up agreeing with her. Here, she channeled full Catholic nun of the old order in this The Row piece. Growing up, this portrait of St. Catherine of Sienna hung in my parent's collection and I got to see in person when I visited Sienna, Italia. Obviously Greta cannot just be channeling any old nun. She can only channel a nun that had visions and was one of the few female Doctors of the Church. I think that is best.
8. Zendaya + Joan of Arc
I think this side-by-side says it all for you, but Zendaya in this Versace chain-mail creation and her blunt, wavy red bob shouts Joan of Arc! I love that two women of warrior spirit can be paired. As soon as I spotted her, this fresco of Joan popped into my head. I could go on and on about the bravery and courage of these women and how they are fearless and willing to push the boundaries, but I think they make it clear to you in their own right. Cheers to Zendaya & Joan.
9. Kim Kardashian & Solange + Lucas Cranach the Elder's Portrait of Saints Christina & Ottilla
Last, but certainly not least, Kim Kardashian in the gold sheet Versace gown and Solange in this avante garde Iris Van Herpen number fully brought to mind this Lucas Cranach the Elders portrait of these two saints. I personally like the texture vibes of both these ladies. Though Kim very rarely impresses me and Solange always slays, this pairing is also a surprise to me. Obviously, it is definitely the more risque interpretation. Though kudos to Kim, it is one of her more modest outfits.
That is my round-up folks. Hope you enjoyed my take on the red carpet looks and it amped you up to go check out the exhibit!