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Vintage News | A First Look at the Met’s “Manus x Machina” Catalog

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From left: Yves Saint Laurent: Machine-sewn, hand-finished nude silk gauze, hand-glued with white, black, and brown bird-of-paradise feathers, 1969. / Iris van Herpen: Hand-stitched strips of laser-cut nude silicone feathers, machine-sewn white cotton twill, hand-applied silicone-coated gull skulls, 2013.
(Photos: Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936-2008). Evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1969-70 Haute Couture. French. Silk, bird-of-paradise feathers. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gift of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, 1983 (1983.619.1a, b); Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, Autumn/Winter 2013-14 Haute Couture. Dutch. Silicone, cotton. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2015 (2016.14). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art / © Nicholas Alan Cope)

 

 

“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” the forthcoming exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, charts the role of technology in 20th-century fashion, starting with the humble sewing machine. Over time, this workaday instrument revolutionized the industry, which, along with other technological advances, writes Andrew Bolton in the exhibition catalog, “facilitated the development of the haute couture as a separate category within the culture of fashion.” Separate, and greater, that is.

One of the ways that haute couture is distinguished from ready-to-wear (which officially emerged as a competing category in 1973) is its use, and elevation, of the handmade. One of the dresses in the exhibition, a stunning Chanel Haute Couture wedding dress, has a train that took the house’s expert petite mains 450 hours to make. Implied in the elevation of the handmade (high) was the devaluation of the machine-made (low), a dichotomy that is retained in the way we think and talk about fashion, if not in actual practice. It’s time, argues Bolton, for the industry to recognize, across categories, that “hand and machine are equal and mutual protagonists in solving design problems, enhancing design practices, and advancing the future of fashion.”

Andy Warhol, who dreamed of being a machine, wholeheartedly embraced the mechanical and the multiple, notably in portraits, which are at once personal and reproducible. Increasingly, designers are following his lead, using up-to-the-minute technology such as 3-D printing, computer modeling bonding, and ultrasonic welding, to add distinction to their designs, whether they’re custom-making clothes or mass-producing them.

“Manus x Machina” includes designers as diverse as Martin Margiela and Gareth Pugh, Iris van Herpen and Yves Saint Laurent, and will be organized along the lines of a traditional maison de couture in which there are departments for tailoring and dressmaking (flou). These are supported by métiers dedicated to pleating and folding, lacework and leatherwork, embroidery, featherwork, and artificial flowers, all of which will be represented in the show.

Reading an advance copy of the catalog, which features photographs by Nicholas Alan Cope, it is impossible not to be struck by the sheer artistry of the clothing—regardless of category. And that’s as it should be. As Jonathan Ive, chief design officer at Apple, the show’s sponsor, states: “Ultimately, it is the amount of care invested in the craftsmanship, whether machine-made or handmade, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary.”

“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 5 to August 14.

Read this original article on vogue.com >

 

 

Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2014
This wedding dress, writes Andrew Bolton in “Manus x Machina,” “was an inspiration for the exhibition. The design on the train,” he explains, “was sketched by hand and then manipulated on the computer to give the appearance of a randomized, pixelated ‘baroque’ pattern. It was initially hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, then machine-printed (transfer-printed) with rhinestones, and finally hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones. In total, the train required 450 hours of workmanship.”

Karl Lagerfeld (French, born Hamburg, 1938) for House of Chanel (French, founded 1913). Wedding ensemble (back view), Autumn/Winter 2014-15 Haute Couture. Courtesy of Chanel Patrimoine Collection.
Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

 

 

Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton Spring 2012
Dress: Machine-sewn blue silk-polyester crinkle organza, hand-embroidered with laser-cut white and blue plastic flowers, grommeted with clear crystal and silver metal studs, hand-finished. Slip: Machine-sewn white polyester organdy with machine-done broderie anglaise flowers.

Dress, Marc Jacobs (American, born 1964) for Louis Vuitton Co. (French, founded 1854), Spring/Summer 2012.
Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

 

 

Threeasfour Spring 2016
Machine-sewn white neoprene and nude nylon mesh, hand-appliqué of 3-D printed (SLS) ivory resin and nylon.

Dress, Threeasfour (American, founded 2005), Spring/Summer 2016.
Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

 

 

Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring 2015
Hand-pleated, machine-sewn white silk organdy, hand-embroidered with piece-dyed polychrome silk grosgrain ribbon, machine-sewn green wool-silk crepe, hand-finished.

Raf Simons (Belgian, born 1968) for House of Dior (French, founded 1947). Ensemble, Spring/Summer 2015 Haute Couture. Courtesy of Christian Dior Haute Couture.
Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

 

 

From left: Christian Dior: Machine-sewn, hand-finished white silk organza, hand-embroidered with artificial flowers in green, pink, yellow, and white silk floss, hand-painted cotton, silk twist. / Christopher Kane: Sweater: Machine-knit ivory cashmere; appliqué of white nylon net; machine- and hand-embroidered with green, black, and orange silk-synthetic thread and yellow and opalescent sequins. Skirt: Machine-sewn nude silk synthetic organza; laser-cut yellow polyester voile appliqué; machine- and hand-embroidered with green, black, and orange silk-synthetic thread.

Photos: Christian Dior (French, 1905-1957). Vilmiron dress, Spring/Summer 1952 Haute Couture. French. Silk, nylon. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1955 (C.I.55.76.20a-g); Christopher Kane (British, born 1982). Dress, Spring/Summer 2014. Courtesy of Christopher Kane. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art / © Nicholas Alan Cope

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