Merging Fashion and Technology At The Met’s Costume Institute Show
The Costume institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC is home to over 35,000 costumes and accessories. Representing seven centuries of dress, since its reopening in 2014, there has been a large shift in their bi-annual exhibitions. More and more, the participating designers are producing technological garments, fusing together the elegance and style of fashion with the latest developments in technology.
This year, The Costume Institute presents its latest collection entitled Manus x Machina, a exploration of how fashion has evolved alongside the new inventions of technology. The exhibition space, a futurist temple of fashion, houses 160 pieces by top leading designers, spanning from early 20th century to present day. The inspiration came from looking closely at Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian Dress from the Fall 1965 collection. Andrew Bolton, the curator at The Costume Institute, discovered that the dress was made almost entirely by machine. This revelation showed the progression and necessity of technology within the fashion industry, when once Haute Couture by very definition had always meant hand made.
The first piece visitors are greeted with is the stunning Wedding Ensemble by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Stealing the spotlight, the wedding dress is eclipsed by its ten foot, glittering train made from scuba knit and hand embroidered with glass, gold and crystals.
Following the grand opening, Israeli born designer Noa Raviv’s piece entitled dress certainly makes an impact. A monochrome, optical dress, Raviv employed the relatively unexplored technique of 3D printing to create his masterpiece. To give the illusive of transitioning from 2D to 3D, the printed polymer is attached at the hip and protrudes outwards from the garment. At a time when multiple consumer goods are being 3D printed, it’s about time the fashion industry really got creative with this technique. The 21st Century version of a tailored garment? A piece specifically printed for your body shape!
English fashion designer Gareth Pugh also makes his mark in the collection, designing a black tunic made entirely of drinking straws. Hand cut and sewn directly onto the mesh base, each straw is attached with metal hooks. The most amazing part of this piece is how attractive the material actually looks, catching the breeze as the piece is worn, straws fluttering elegantly like feathers.
The Hussein Chalayan piece, Floating Dress is made from sculpted fiberglass, resulting in an eye catching and delicate yet robotic silhouette. The piece is painted with gold pigment and and embellished with pearled paper and crystals. The futuristic garment is worn by stepping into a rear back panel and is entirely remote control operated. What’s more, the embellishes can be spring loaded and, by using the controller, be launched up into the air, swirling around the wearer.
Perhaps the most spectacular and talked about piece at the Met’s Costume Institute actually came from outside the exhibition. During the annual Gala, actress Claire Danes pulled out all the technology stops with her show stopping, red carpet dress. Her princess-esque, sky blue ball gown was hand crafted from organza and fiber optics, allowing the dress to illuminate in the dark. The dress featuring a seriously voluminous full skirt was ultimately a very fitting piece for the event.