Right to left: Donatella Versace, Anna Wintour, and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.
Photo: AP images.

Be careful staring at this image too long, or you might find yourself mesmerized into purchasing some snappy designer shoes that would perhaps work on an globe-trotting Italian count played by Rossano Brazzi but nobody else.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s latest Costume Institute blockbuster, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” is scheduled to open May 10. The Associated Press reported from an event in Rome to preview the items that the Vatican will be shipping across the Atlantic for the exhibit:

With Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for “The Mission” playing in the background, visitors on Monday were able to glimpse a small sampling of the soon-to-be-shipped Vatican bling: The white silk cape embroidered with gold thread that once belonged to Pope Benedict XV, and the emerald, sapphire and diamond-studded miter, or pointed bishops’ hat, of Pope Leo XIII.

They were put on display at the Palazzo Colonna, a former papal residence in downtown Rome that is a jewel of the Roman Baroque period.

Wearing a cardinal-appropriate red and black velvet tunic dress, Wintour, for whom Costume Institute’s space was renamed, said the exhibit shows the influence of the papacy over millennia.

“Some might consider fashion to be an unfitting or unseemly medium by which to engage with ideas about the sacred or the divine,” said curator Andrew Bolton. “But dress is central to any discussion about religion. It affirms religious allegiances and, by extension, it asserts religious differences.”

Is it for the Costume Institute exhibit, though? Because “The Vatican, Versace, and Vogue” sounds like exactly what you’d chant in front of a mirror if you wanted to summon a particularly stylish demon. And please note that the Vatican is planning a week-long conference in April on exorcism. And that recent, rare Roman snowfall was pretty surreal! Just saying—look out, Rome.

Photo: AP Images.