As a member and supporter of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was able to see the latest exhibit, Manus x Machina, during a member preview. While the title of the exhibit might make you think more wearable technology like apple watches, the exhibit actually takes a much more practical approach; how technology has changed and been incorporated into the art of fashion.
Fashion is indeed an art form, and if you don’t believe that you need to see this exhibit and the craftsmanship behind couture level garments. The collection includes court dresses which were sewn entirely by hand, then with the advent of sewing machines dresses started being machine sewn and then the finishing details were done by hand. The dress in the picture above was machine sewn, and then hand beaded so meticulously that no seams are seen. The elaborate beading process took approximately 1500 hours to complete. If someone doesn’t see art in that process they must be blind.
The exhibit also goes into the artistry of specific techniques, and the new creative approaches some designers take. For instance feather and flower embellishments. Feathers and flowers have been used in fashion for centuries, but the techniques used with them or to create them have evolved. For instance flowers can now be created via laser cutting, 3d printing, and metal working. Feathers are reworked and cut to create different effects, and other materials are now being used to create feather-life effects.
Beadwork is also a huge part of the exhibit. With sequins, glass beads, and other found objects being sewn onto dresses creating beautiful and elaborate dresses. The center piece of the exhibit is a beautiful example of beadwork. It’s a Chanel wedding dress made from scuba material with a long, elaborately beaded train.
I was also amazed to see how 3d printing was starting to be incorporated into fashion. There were some amazing, sculptural pieces that looked more like works of art themselves as opposed to clothing items. The above is a 3d printed dress with lace-like details.
All in all the Manus x Machina exhibit is highly worthwhile. While there is a lot of text that needs to be read in order to appreciate the collection fully, you can also just walk around in awe of the level of craftsmanship, creativity, and ingenuity of these designers.