Later this year The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be hosting an exhibition titled Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, which translates as Hand x Machine, thus signifying the addressing of the impact of technology on high-end fashion and the significance of the preconceived ideologies regarding the hand/machine dichotomy.
Manus x Machina sets out to question the distinction between haute couture and prêt-à-porter, embracing creations exquisitely made through technological practices, in order to challenge the conventions surrounding the hand sown for couture, machine sown for ready-to-wear ideology. In more recent years the distinction between the two has become increasingly blurred due to the experimentation regarding the technologically advanced methods embedded within innovative design processes, these include; 3D printing, laser cutting, computer modelling, laminating etc. The exhibition aims to show how designers are utilising technological processes within the creation of both their haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear garments.
The Robert Lehman Wing and the Anna Wintour Costume Centre will be holding two separate areas of the exhibition. The Robert Lehman Wing galleries are set to present traditional methods of haute couture including featherwork, pleating, artificial flowers and lace work, which will accompany innovative process such 3D printing, circular knitting, ultrasonic welding and laser cutting, thus comparing the two, realising the similarities and attempting to diminish the distinction between them. Additionally a series of case studies contrasting ready-to-wear and haute couture ensembles will offer a further exploration. The Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries will be designed as a reinterpretation of a traditional maison de couture with ateliers of dressmaking and tailoring. Creations from a selection of the most iconic of designers including Christian Dior, Issey Miyake, Yves Saint Laurent and Miuccia Prada will be featured, with over 120 garments to be displayed.
Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology ultimately aims to embed the realisation that the status of the clothing is determined by the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it is machine-made or handmade, thus enabling the transformation of ordinary materials into something extraordinary.
Shohei Shigematsu, director of OMA New York will lead the exhibition design, in collaboration with the museum’s design department. The exhibition is to be presented by the museum’s Costume Institute and will be held from May 5th – August 14th. For more information see here.
Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel, Autumn Winter 2014-15 haute couture
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, 1963-1968 haute couture Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel, Autumn Winter 2015-16 haute coutureYves Saint Laurent, Autumn Winter 1969-70 haute couture
Photography is by Nicholas Alan Cope, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.