The annual Met Gala, chaired by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and notorious for its (sometimes) boundary-pushing fashion, had an extra dose of edgy with its 2018 theme: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”
But the ball, as with every year, drew its inspiration directly from the main show by the same name at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Three days after the celebrity-studded gala, late night host and devout Catholic Stephen Colbert went behind the scenes for a private tour of the exhibit with Anna Wintour and exhibit curator Andrew Bolton. The result — “high fashion inspired by the Catholic Church — or maybe Stephen King,” the host deadpans — is a silly tutorial in Catholic vestments and papal history.
“Is there a security system protecting all this stuff, or is the security just the crushing guilt you will feel if you take anything?,” Colbert asks.
Bolton takes Colbert through liturgical vestments from the Sistine Chapel sacristy at the Vatican, including a stunning cope made for Pius IX — who instituted the doctrine of papal infallibility and presided during the segmentation of the Vatican from modern Italy — depicting scenes from the Old Testament.
“The Catholic imagination has had an amazing influence on costume for many centuries … it’s not only about costumes, it’s about artifacts and art, history,” Wintour says on Colbert’s show.
In fact, the Met worked very closely with the Vatican in planning the exhibit, designed to be reminiscent of a religious pilgrimage. At 25 galleries, it is the largest exhibit in Met history.
In the face of such glamour, Colbert naturally kicks off a game of “Who Poped It Better?,” comparing fashion from different centuries. When Wintour and Bolton choose Benedict in one round, Colbert gives a nod to media fasciation with the former pope as the “high priest of fashion.”
“Your lucky day, Benny!” he responds.
Watch the full segment: