After all, the 59-year-old singer — who carried the namesake of Mary, mother of Jesus, from her own mother — has long used Catholic imagery in her music videos and stage shows. Most notably? 1989’s “Like a Prayer,” its music video featuring burning crosses, stigmata and Madonna kissing a black saint.
Still, Madonna’s performance at the Costume Institute benefit came as a surprise for attendees. Though the annual affair has had musical performances by stars like Bruno Mars and Katy Perry in the past, Madonna’s turn on Monday night was completely unannounced.
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Among the songs in her set was a reimagined version of “Like a Prayer” — performed with singers dressed as monks, naturally — and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 song “Hallelujah,” sung sitting on the Met’s stairs.
She also appeared to premiere a new song off her upcoming album called “Beautiful Game” with the lyrics, “It’s a beautiful plan, but I’m not concerned / It’s a beautiful game, that I never learned / You have taught me to shut my mouth, so I don’t get burned / Keep your beautiful lies, ‘cause I’m not concerned.”
Videos of her songs were shared by Vogue as well as various attendees, who quickly spread them on social media.
As for her costume, Madonna began her performance in a monk robe before stripping it off in exchange for a flowing white ensemble.
On the red carpet, she wore a Jean Paul Gaultier black ball gown that featured a fitted bodice, a sheer cross cutout, and a full ball skirt. Stylist Eyob Yohannes accessorized the look with a black veil, cross-adorned crown and a black flower which she carried in her hand.
Yohannes described her look in three words: “Immaculate Goth Queen.”
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“The religious theme most certainly played into the look however we wanted to put a twist on it so we decided to make it all black,” Yohannes told PEOPLE exclusively. “Madonna has always woven in religion and spirituality into her music and image throughout her career. This years theme could not have better suited her.”
“Madonna and Jean Paul have had quite a history together so it was a wonderful family reunion and quite the fashion throwback,” Yohannes added. “It was lovely to work with Jean Paul who has such a creative eye.”