Cardinal Timothy Dolan was far from offended by Rihanna wearing that bejeweled papal-looking hat for Monday night’s Met Ball celebrating the Costume Institute’s exhibit of Vatican fashion.
In fact, the head of New York’s Roman Catholic diocese joked that he loaned the miter to the pop star.
“The news said she was wearing a tiara,” Dolan said Tuesday in an interview on SiriusXM’s The Catholic Channel, noting that it was in fact a miter of the sort worn by bishops and cardinals on formal liturgical occasions. “She gave it back to me this morning,” he quipped in his characteristically dry fashion. “She was very gracious.”
(“It was a joke,” an archdiocese spokesman clarified on Wednesday. “There was no actual loan of a miter to anyone.”)
The “Umbrella” singer turned heads at the gala event wearing a beaded white corset dress with matching jacket and clutch, custom made by John Galliano’s Maison Martin Margiela.
“I was teasing my auxiliary bishops, who were teasing me about Rihanna and I said, ‘Hey, you guys should not complain because she’s volunteered to do some confirmations,'” Dolan joked. (We’re guessing that the pop star won’t actually be filling in for any of the diocese’s bishops to perform that sacrament.)
Dolan admitted he was a “tad apprehensive” about attending the Met Ball — whose theme this year was based on a new exhibit of Vatican-loaned artwork and vestments called “Heavenly Bodies” — but ball host and Vogue editor Anna Wintour had assured him that organizers would rein in the out-there fashion choices of previous years.
“There were some aspects that looked like kind of a masquerade party, a Halloween party,” he conceded. “I didn’t really see anything sacrilegious, I may have seen some things in poor taste, but I didn’t detect anybody out to offend the church.”
He added, “A number of people came up and spoke about their Catholic upbringing and things they remembered and it was a powerful evening.”
Dolan was the first to admit that he’s no fashion expert. “You think I’d look like this if I was interested in fashion? You think I wouldn’t lose 80 pounds? You’re talking about a JCPenney’s Big & Tall man — that’s where get my fashion, OK?” he said.
“You know I wasn’t in there for the fashion, the glitter.”