Manus x Machina exhibit explores fashion’s evolution through technology
In October 2015, The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the Costume Institute spring 2016 exhibition, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. On Monday, the museum opened its doors for a private preview including select looks.
The spring exhibit examines the impact that technology has on fashion and attempts to erase the stigmas of mass production and handcrafted goods. Andrew Bolton, the Curator in Charge at the Met who assumed the role in January following the departure of Harold Koda, spoke about the exhibition, specifically about the periods of time when haute couture was invented in the 19th century, when the sewing machine was invented and the emergence of a distinction between the hand and the machine.
A few works by Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Christian Dior, Raf Simons for Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Iris Van Herpen and Issey Miyake were on display at the preview as examples of advances in technology that the exhibit will cover. For example, the Chanel outfit by Karl Lagerfeld is an update to the iconic suit designed by Chanel herself, but the new version features 3D printing. The YSL piece and the Raf Simons for Dior dress on display both required handwork while the Iris Van Herpen dress is a product of cutting edge technology machinery.
“Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other,” said Bolton. “Manus x Machina will challenge the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy and propose a new paradigm germane to our age of technology.”
Manus x Machina will feature more than 100 haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear examples dating from the 1880s to 2015. The Robert Lehman Collection galleries on the first floor and ground level of the museum present haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles including embroidery, featherwork, pleating and leatherwork as well as innovative processes including 3-D printing, circular knitting, computer modeling, and laser cutting. The Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries resemble a traditional maison de couture with ateliers of tailoring and dressmaking.
Designers in the exhibition include Cristobal Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Alber Elbaz, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Christopher Kane, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, Helmut Lang, Gareth Pugh, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto among others.
Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology will be on view from May 5 through August 14 preceded on May 2 by the Costume Institute Benefit.
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