Manus x Machina:
Fashion in an Age of Technology
Plan that NYC trip now. There isn’t much time, only until August 14, to see Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The show is stunning, absolutely mesmerizing. The exhibition rotunda has been reinvented as a cathedral by architect Shohei Shigematsu, and the gorgeous clothes are on two floors of the museum. Manus x Machina begins with a great concept and then illustrates that theme of tradition versus futurism with dramatic garments made of a variety of materials. Those materials and images have been produced by wildly different methods, guaranteeing high drama. The exhibit is thought-provoking in myriad ways, unsettling while enormously impressive. The idea of technology in haute couture fashion may seem ridiculous at first, but after viewing Manus x Machina, even the most skeptical fashionistas will embrace the possibilities of high-tech, impeccable hand craftsmanship, and high style, all in commanding co-existence.
What is described by Vogue magazine as “an extraordinary collision of man and machine” is exemplified in the show by reconsideration of a classic Chanel suit, hand-embroidered and hand-sewn with metallic sequins worked in opposite directions, while the outer part is 3-D printed polyamide mesh via laser sintering. At the entrance, the show’s centerpiece is another showstopper Chanel piece by Karl Lagerfeld: a couture wedding dress that required 450 hours of labor to finish and has a 20-foot train. Blame or embrace the sewing machine, invented in 1829 — it changed everything, offering fast fashion versus impeccable construction. Today, those methods are frequently combined in the most unique and inspiring ways, using 3-D printing, all sorts of plastic materials, machine painting as well as that done by hand, fine craftsman stitchery, and fiber optics. The machine has not obliterated handcrafted fashion, but has elevated it.
Manus x Machina will enlarge your notion of fashion. Great minds, human talent, and machines are at work. 212.535.7710, metmuseum.org/manusxmachina DARLENE G. DAVIES