Toeing the line for the sake of fashion

This year’s somewhat controversial Met Gala theme produced a wide range of potentially offensive outfits


The interpretations of the theme ranged from Gigi’s stained glass gown to Rihanna arriving as the pope.

The annual Met Gala is a huge event, attended by many of the most popular celebrities — from movie stars to pop singers. Like most events of this nature, what the attendees wear is possibly more important than the event itself, and to keep it fun and interesting, the Gala incorporates a theme.

Previous themes have included technology, celebrating Chinese culture, superheroes, and various top designers. Every year, guests seem to either quietly incorporate the theme or go all-out with their interpretation, which sometimes causes a stir from the public.

For those that don’t know, the Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City, which celebrates the grand opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit, according to Wikipedia.

This year’s theme was titled “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” The exhibit displayed artifacts from the Vatican in Rome and was based around the influence of the Catholic church on modern fashion, as well as everyday life.

When I first heard the theme for this year’s Met Gala, I became nervous. Many of the attending stars have a proclivity for arriving in outfits intentionally trying to get a reaction. For example, in 2015 Sarah Jessica Parker arrived in a headdress that was more cultural appropriation than cultural appreciation.

With the theme being related to a dominant world religion, there is room for many different opinions on the outfits. However, there is also a fine line between incorporating the theme, as some did, and straight up dressing in the high fashion version of a sexy pope costume.

Yes, I’m talking about Rihanna, and as much as I adore her and everything she does, her take on “Heavenly Bodies” may have been too far.

While I am not a religious person, I was raised in a Catholic family and went through confirmation in high school. The conservative religion is not known for its friendly and caring disposition, but that doesn’t give a celebrity the right to dress up in a terrible parody of a religious leader.

Unsurprisingly, Rihanna was not the only one that took the theme a little too literally. Sarah Jessica Parker again went with elaborate headwear, donning a tiny temple on her head, while Katy Perry paired gigantic feathered wings with a golden mini dress.

On the other end of the spectrum were some respectful and beautiful outfits, with many women acknowledging the heavenly theme with a sparkly golden dress. Stars like Blake Lively and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley paired elegant and intricate dresses with a halo, and Zendaya channeled Joan of Arc with a chainmail inspired dress.

I get that many stars, like Rihanna, intentionally dress in edgy outfits that cause people to talk about them, simply for the popularity and fame. However, there are things such as culture and religion that are very important to the people that belong to those groups, and appropriating that culture or religion without giving it the respect it deserves is not edgy or cool, but simply offensive.

Fashion has been tied to religion for hundreds of years, taking style hints from leaders of whichever one is most popular at the time. In this case, I think fashion needed to step back and go for subtle religious imagery, rather than setting a new standard for “sexy pope” Halloween costumes.