The Met Gala's annual red carpet of celebrities and high octane fashion is a guilty pleasure to see, but so too is its excellently-curated exhibition. Currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute is Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, where over 120 pieces of haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion are on display to be discovered.
The exhibition explores the creative process and unravels how designers are reconciling the handmade with the machine-made in fashion. Galleries focus on embroidery, feather work, artificial flowers, and pleating alongside innovative processes such as 3D printing, computer modeling, laser cutting and other techniques.
The sewing machine marked the start of mass production
With a plethora of looks dating from the early 20th century to the present, the exhibition follows the birth of haute couture in the 19th century, when the sewing machine was invented, and the emergence of a distinction between the hand (manus) and the machine (machina) at the onset of mass production. It also explores an ongoing dichotom in which hand and machine are presented as discordant tools in the creative process, and questions the relationship and distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear.
On Monday evening the exhibition was opened by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, a patron of the Costume Gala, and saw a host of glamorous stars incorporate the theme of technology in their choice of outfit. Taylor Swift, one of the event's co-chairs, wore a metallic dress by Louis Vuitton, followed closely by Lady Gaga who was dressed by Versace and wore a leather jacket featuring embellishments in the style of a computer motherboard. The men took the theme literally too, with Zayn Malik also wearing custom Versace in a robot-inspired suit with moulded metal arms studded with Swarovski crystals.
And it wasn't solely the luxury fashion houses that dressed the stars at the exhibition's debut. While there was plenty of Louis Vuitton, Balmain and Versace to see, there was also bespoke Topshop, H&M and recycled Green Carpet Challenge designs.
The exhibition opens to the public on May 5 and runs until August 14.
Images:Jennifer Hudson in H&M, Anna Winter in Chanel © PA, Zayn Malik © PA, Taylor Swift © PA, Kate Upton Topshop