(Story by Nick Gomez. Intro by Pablo Starr.)
The Costume Institute’s Manus X Machina: What to Expect
Love it or hate it, technology is woven into the very fabric (no pun intended) of our daily lives. Or, as Daft Punk once sang via vocoder: “Harder, better, faster, stronger.” Indeed, the whole idea of technology is a fierce thrust forward.
But it strikes home nowhere quite like in a field like fashion, born of work done entirely by hand (in Latin, manus), and now principally by machine (machina).
Technology strikes home nowhere quite like in a field born of work done by hand.
Like the apocryphal John Henry — racing against a steam-powered hammer — or Kasparov vs. Deep Blue, we’re constantly reassessing where technology is making our lives better, and where it may be creating a hidden sacrifice.
We’re constantly reassessing whether technology is actually creating a new sacrifice.
Just as books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma are forcing us to reassess the way we’ve traded nutrition for convenience, there’s a movement toward handcrafted and bespoke clothing quietly gaining momentum beneath the über convenience of quasi-disposable “fast fashion” (some of which, we admit, we’ve gladly purchased ourselves).
The very presence of technology in an artisanal-based industry engenders many questions:
How significant is the distinction between haute couture (exclusive custom-fitted clothing) and ready-to-wear (mass produced in standardized “sizes”)? How has technology changed fashion, and where is it going?
How has technology changed fashion, and where is it going?
This spring, some of the debate around technology will be brought to the forefront with Manus X Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology, opening May 5 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
At the Press Preview
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At the press preview this morning, Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, shared that one of the inspirations behind the exhibit was Fritz Lang’s sci-fi film Metropolis, with its themes of technology, separation, and love — where the mediator between opposing forces is the heart.
One of the inspirations behind the exhibit was Fritz Lang’s sci-fi film Metropolis
The exhibit will present an opportunity to observe the oppositional relationship between haute couture and ready-to-wear, both separately and as a blended approach.
Viewers will get a close-up look at how the industrial revolution created a marked difference between the hand and the machine. With more than 100 pieces dating from the 1880s to 2015, the story of tech in fashion will be told, but also pushed forward.
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So where has fashion been … and where does it go from here? Come to the exhibit May 5 and decide for yourself.
Photos Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/BFA.com