Monday, May 30, 2016


Karl Lagerfeld's  Spring '14 wedding ensemble, created for Ashleigh Good; opening piece at the Metropolitan Museum's Manus x Machina exhibit

Tides turn as creatively cloned elements become "cooler" and "more couture" than wholly handmade clothing. Where high fashion was once categorized either "commercial" or "custom couture," distinguished designers Sarah Burton, Iris Van Herpen, Issey Miyake, Karl Lagerfeld and others prove that talent and technology have inevitably become intermingled. At the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology presents a dissenting opinion to the decades-old distinction between man and machine. Andrew Bolton's curated masterpiece suggests "a spectrum or continuum of practice, whereby the hand and the machine are equal and mutual protagonists in solving design problems, enhancing design practices, and, ultimately, advancing the future of fashion" [source]. Keep reading to see more...

Karl Lagerfeld's neoprene Chanel couture piece [L]; Karl Lagerfeld walking a pregnant Ashleigh Good [R photo: source]

Tucked in a rotunda behind European sculpture and ancient artifacts,the Robert Lehman Wing hosts over 170 fashion finds from the 1900s to the present. Karl Lagerfeld's Spring 2014 Chanel wedding ensemble (designed for a pregnant Ashleigh Good) serves as a centerpiece, exhibiting a synergistic "confluence between the handmade and the machine-made--the pattern on the train was hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, machine-printed with rhinestones and hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones." The white piece-- a singular specimen in a snow-colored solarium--is surrounded by old style volumes and projected textures.
House of Dior "L'Elephant Blanc" Evening Dress (S/S 1958) by Yves Saint Laurent

The cathedral-esque arrangement comprises alcoves of artistry, with Dior and Chanel as clear favorites. Separate niches of like-colored clothing allow visitors to explore the complexity of each garment and weigh the dichotomy of hand and/or machine-made through flowers, feathers and embroidery. Details subtly shift on translucent screens in the background while succinct explanations and suitably curated quotes educate both fashion aficionados and otherwise. Stay Tuned for Part 2, with photos of the Ground Floor exhibit.

Dior dress with hand-applied flowers

"Instead of presenting the handmade and the machine-made as oppositional, this exhibition suggests a spectrum or continuum of practice, whereby the hand and the machine are equal and mutual protagonists in solving design problems, enhancing design practices, and, ultimately, advancing the future of fashion. It prompts a rethinking of the institutions of the haute couture and pret-a-porter, especially as the technical separations between the two grow increasingly ambiguous and the quality of designer pret-a-perter more refined." 

Parurier Floral (Artificial Flowers); Christopher Kane S/S 2014 [L], House of Dior - Machine sewn, hand finished and hand embroidered [R]

"[We talk] about the hand in the haute couture as if it's an abstract concept, but those hands belong to particular women, who have very specific skills, very specific tastes, and very specific personalities, which all come through in their handiwork... It's like writing a song. You write a song, but the singer changes it through his or her own voice, through his or her interpretation. For us, our premieres [head seamstress] are our interpreters"
-Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli

Parurier Floral (Artificial Flowers); Prada + House of Dior

Alexander McQueen (2009); hand embroidered with silver metal flower petals

"[The flowers are] made out of metal--painted with enamel, to be more exact. They were all hand painted, then hand applied to the dress three dimensionally... . At McQueen there has always been a merging of couture and ready-to-wear practices. It's difficult to differentiate one from the other" 
-Sarah Burton

Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton dresses S/S 2016 

"These pieces were very complex in terms of the processes involved. The celluloid sequins were cut into strips by laser, then machine glued onto tulle. When the fabric arrived back from the factory, I didn't like it--I thought the tulle was too flat..., But, as I began to fold and drape the fabric, bubbles began to form, and the sequins took on the shape of a croissant.... Because the sequins were too shiny, we had them spray painted--by hand--to create shadows and to make them look more dimensional... I wanted everything to look imperfect, even the metal eyelets." 
- Nicholas Ghesquiere

Detail--Alexander McQueen Evening Dress (2012)

Beaded, scalloped layers - back view

Couldn't help myself... One last picture...

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