Monday night’s Met Gala was themed around the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s next Costume Institute exhibit, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” As the title suggests, the display examines the influence of Catholicism on clothing.
So, as is tradition, celebrities came to the ball dressing on theme. While some attendees paid vague tributes with cross motifs and ornate jewels, some guests went all-out: Rihanna wore a papal outfit (complete with a mitre), Greta Gerwig wore a nun-like ensemble, Ariana Grande wore a gown printed with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and Zendaya wore armour inspired by Joan of Arc.
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But even though the Vatican had approved of the exhibit and even lent the Met museum about 50 garments and accessories for the show, some Catholics thought the event appropriated their religion into a fashion statement. Some people called the theme sacrilegious and offensive to their faith:
The met gala theme is lowkey disrespectful to the catholic religion let’s be real
— jessica (@sawthedimples) May 7, 2018
The wearing of crosses/pope garb at the #metgala by people who aren't Christian/catholic is obviously sacrilegious. Guessing people wearing hijab & caricatures of Muslim clothing wouldn't go over quite as well
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) May 8, 2018
Celebrities at any other point in time: "Appropriating cultural and religious garb is wrong, insensitive, and offensive."
Celebrities at the Met Gala: "LOL CATHOLICISM AMIRITE"
— 💚 Laurelei Lee 💚 (@Laurelei_Lee) May 8, 2018
The Met Gala is extremely offensive and has no shame for disrespecting our religon. The ever-growing hypocrisy of the world is absolutely unbelievable.
— mel (@deusgratiaest) May 8, 2018
It’s sort of surprising (given how lapsed of a lapsed Catholic I am) how offensive I’m finding the #metgala looks. Like… are they cosplaying the religion I was born into, that matters a great deal to a bunch of people I care about? That seems sorta tacky, no?
— MA – BLACK LIVES MATTER (@simplyaMAhzing) May 7, 2018
People can speak up about how a prom dress offended & disrespected a whole culture, well as a devoted Catholic & in MY personal opinion, I find this wrong!
Catholicism is NOT a “theme” & it’s NOT a fashion statement!
Hollywood/Met Gala, shame on you! pic.twitter.com/NqyiaILhv4
— Ashley Rodriguez (@AshRdzOfficial) May 8, 2018
Others, who were critical of the church, called out the Met for glorifying Catholicism, despite its dark history:
The #MetGala having a Catholic theme is so appropriate considering Hollywood and the Vatican are both institutions that are notorious for rape, child abuse, and molestation.
— Shameen (@ShameenYakubu) May 8, 2018
Is there a met gala outfit that highlights the abuses within the Catholic Church?
Big opportunity missed.
— wes (@wesleythewong) May 8, 2018
I wish a prominent native designer could’ve designed a look for this years met gala on how the Catholic Church pillaged Native lands to kill, enslave or assimilate Indians for their religion.
— Hon’mana (@seukteomaaa) May 8, 2018
The Met Gala this year is the only good thing ever to come about as a result of the Catholic Church.
— Ra-ra-rasputin (@0edipussy) May 8, 2018
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Cardinal Timothy Dolan attended the exhibit and gave a press conference explaining the church’s involvement.“You may be asking, what is the cardinal archbishop of New York doing here? I asked that when I was invited several months ago,’’ he joked.
“But think about it just for a moment,” he continued. “It’s because the Church and the Catholic imagination—the theme of this exhibit—are all about three things: truth, goodness and beauty. That’s why we’re into things such as art, culture, music, literature and, yes, even fashion.’’
— The Metropolitan Museum of Art (@metmuseum) May 7, 2018
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.