THAT CLOSER LOOK: Manus X Machina at the Met by Troy Wise

THAT CLOSER LOOK Manus X Machina at the Met by Troy Wise. Spring 2016, www.imageamplified.com, Image Amplified (2)

We’re  fascinated  by  technology’s  influence  on  fashion.  Technology  has  impacted  how  fashion communicates,  how  it  spreads,  and  how  it  connects.  However,  Andrew  Bolton’s  Manus  X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit gives us a compelling look into how technology shapes how fashion is designed and produced.  We were eager to see Manus X Machina during our recent trip to New York.

The exhibit pointedly overturns the familiar hand vs. machine dichotomy, usually associated with the haute couture vs. prêt-à-porter categories of fashion. Handmade usually signifies exclusivity and individuality. The machine-made is generally regarded as inferior and appropriate only for the masses.  However,  Manus  x  Machina  reveals  that  when  it  comes  to  fashion,  the  handmade  and  the machine-made  aren’t  always  so  separate.  Haute  couture  and prêt-à-porter  have  frequently borrowed production processes from each other.

True, the first couture house used sewing machines for its seam work. However, fashion’s recent use of 3-D printing and materials like rubber, metal powders, magnets, and neoprene give us glimpses into fashion’s future.

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The view is distinctive, imaginative, and optimistic.  Technology is increasingly leading production innovation. As Bolton points out, “…the hand and the  machine  are  equal  and  mutual  protagonists  in  solving  design  problems,  enhancing  design practices, and ultimately, advancing the future of fashion.”

For example, Karl Lagerfeld’s bridal gown stands at the center of the show. As Lagerfeld points out, the use of moldable scuba neoprene material offers couture without the couture. Its train is 20 feet long, has been digitally pixelated, hand painted, and embroidered.  Lagerfeld’s gown is a continual intertwining of that made by hand, and that made by machine.  Gareth Pugh’s work seems like a natural fit for such an exhibit. There are also pieces from Prada, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen.

THAT CLOSER LOOK Manus X Machina at the Met by Troy Wise. Spring 2016, www.imageamplified.com, Image Amplified (8)

Some of our favorites are from Iris van Herpen. Having created her first 3-D printed dresses in 2009, she has created truly remarkable silhouettes, and is at the forefront of embracing the fashion opportunities afforded by emerging technology.  The Manus x Machina exhibit examines fashion’s place in the “Age of Technology.” It also imbues us with a sense of the new, offering us a glimpse of the future that is just starting to unfold.  Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 5 – August 14, 2016.

Ph: Troy Wise

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Image Amplified: The Flash and Glam of All Things Pop Culture. From the Runway to the Red Carpet, High Fashion to Music, Movie Stars to Supermodels.