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Met Gala 2016: Fashion in an Age of Technology

The ‘fashion Oscars’ are now officially underway. Dozens of celebrity royalties are flocking along the red carpet of the Met Gala to celebrate the opening of the latest exhibition from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute; ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.’

This year, that exhibition, brings some of the world’s most cutting-edge fashion together to examine the relationship between couture and technology, the hand-created and the machine-made.

Featuring more than 170 examples of haute couture and avant- garde ready-to-wear, dating from the early 1900s to the present, the Costume Institute exhibits are curated by Andrew Bolton.

Met Gala Display
Met Gala Display

“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. ‘Manus x Machina’ challenges the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy and proposes a new paradigm germane to our age of technology,” Bolton said.

“Fashion and technology are inextricably connected, more so now than ever before. It is therefore timely to examine the roles that the handmade and the machine-made have played in the creative process. This exhibition proposes a new view in which the hand and the machine, often presented as oppositional, are mutual and equal protagonists,” The Met director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell added.

The exhibition is organized by métiers, and more than 170 items dating from the early 1900s to the present are displayed in six different sections — embroidery, featherwork, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework and leatherwork.

At first glance, “Manus x Machina” is an exhibit full of dazzling gowns and gorgeous garments, but those who take the time to truly see the items on display will develop a better understanding of the dedicated people and the complex tools needed to bring such creations to life. Karl Lagerfeld’s couture wedding gown and its train, required more than 450 hours of work to complete.

Courtesy: The Met
Courtesy: The Met

The gorgeous and intricate wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, was “transferred onto a computer to make a pixilated Baroque pattern, rhinestones were heat transferred by machine, outlined by hand with
gold paint and finished with pearls and gemstones,” making it “the perfect case study”, Bolton said. Lagerfeld’s wedding dress, like many exquisite couture creations in the exhibition and those to be showcased at the ball, were only made to be worn once.

The exhibition is one of few currently showing across the US to examine the meeting of tech and textiles.

At $30,000 a ticket for the estimated 600 attendees, it is expected approximately $12.5 million for the Costume Institute.

“Manus x Machina,” opens to the public May 5 and runs through August 14.

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