Exploring the connection of fashion to technology and the way in which new designers are uniting hand and machine-made processes today, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s spring exhibition at the Costume Institute will include over 100 examples of haute couture and ready-to-wear, dating from the 1880s to 2015. In this historical view, the exhibition varies from recent displays focusing solely upon the cutting edge and looks instead at the long-lasting mutual influence and relationship that the two areas have had.
The exhibition will look back to the very beginning of the haute couture, at the time in the 19th Century when the sewing machine had just been invented, moving through industrialisation and mass production and where haute couture and ready-to-wear stood in strict opposition due to their making methods. Looking at today’s market where ancient and innovative methods are combined, the exhibition questions how far haute couture and ready-to-wear remain divided by their manufacture, as today the two disciplines are embracing one another’s techniques. In fact, with the innovations in technology, now both automated and handcrafted processes require a similarly high level of skill, further blurring the boundaries between couture, ready-to-wear and complicating the definition of “handcrafted.”
Pairings of handmade haute couture garments and their machine-made ready-to-wear counterparts will explore the dichotomies between these two disciplines, while a series of galleries will display the traditional structure of a couture atelier and its petites mains workshops for embroidery, feathers, pleating, knitting, lacework, leatherwork, braiding, and fringe work. Contrasting with these is a series of ensembles which utilise the latest technologies of 3D printing, laser cutting, thermo shaping, computer modeling, circular knitting, ultrasonic welding, and bonding and laminating. Visitors can also try their hand at these specialisms, during a series of “in process” workshops.
The exhibition will include designers Gilbert Adrian, Azzedine Alaïa, Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Cristobal Balenciaga, Boué Soeurs, Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Pierre Cardin, Hussein Chalayan, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Giles Deacon, Christian Dior, Alber Elbaz (Lanvin), Mariano Fortuny, John Galliano (Christian Dior, Maison Margiela), Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton), Hubert de Givenchy, Madame Grès, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough for Proenza Schouler, Yoshiki Hishinuma, Marc Jacobs (Louis Vuitton), Charles James, Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Helmut Lang, Mary McFadden, Issey Miyake, Miuccia Prada, Paul Poiret, Paco Rabanne, Noa Raviv, Yves Saint Laurent (Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent), Mila Schön, Raf Simons (Jil Sander, Christian Dior), Maiko Takeda, Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy), threeASFOUR, Philip Treacy, Iris van Herpen, Madeleine Vionnet, Alexander Wang, Junya Watanabe, and others.
manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology, 5 May – 14 Aug 2016, The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, United States.
For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org.
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1. Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, fall/winter 2013–14. Silicon feather structure and moldings of bird heads on cotton base. Photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.