The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute spring 2016 exhibition will be Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, on view from May 5 through August 14 (preceded on May 2 by The Costume Institute Benefit). Presented in the Museum’s Robert Lehman Wing, the exhibition will explore how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.
The exhibition is made possible by Apple.
Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.
“Fashion and technology are inextricably connected, more so now than ever before,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met. “It is therefore timely to examine the roles that the handmade and the machine-made have played in the creative process. This exhibition proposes a new view in which the hand and the machine, often presented as oppositional, are mutual and equal protagonists.”
In celebration of the exhibition opening, The Met's Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on Monday, May 2, 2016. The evening’s co-chairs will be Idris Elba, Jonathan Ive, Taylor Swift, and Anna Wintour. Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld, and Miuccia Prada will serve as Honorary Chairs. This event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.
“Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “Manus x Machina will challenge the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy and propose a new paradigm germane to our age of technology.”
Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, said, “Both the automated and handcrafted process require similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise. There are instances where technology is optimized, but ultimately it’s the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it’s machine-made or handmade, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary.”
Manus x Machina will feature more than 150 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear, dating from the early 20th century to the present. The exhibition will address the founding of the 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 industrialization and mass production. It will explore this ongoing dichotomy, in which hand and machine are presented as discordant tools in the creative process, and question this relationship and the significance of the long-held distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear.
The Robert Lehman Wing galleries on the Museum’s first floor and ground level will present a series of case studies to unravel the realties and mythologies of the hand/machine conundrum. At the center of the exhibition will be an installation of toiles and prototypes presented as garments in the making or “monuments to ideas.” Emanating from this presentation will be a series of rooms based on traditional métiers of the haute couture, including embroidery, featherwork, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework, and leatherwork, which will be presented alongside versions that incorporate innovative processes, such as 3-D printing, computer modeling, bonding and laminating, laser cutting, and ultrasonic welding. A room dedicated to the ateliers of tailoring and dressmaking will reflect the traditional division of a maison de couture.
Designers in the exhibition will include Cristobal Balenciaga, Boué Soeurs, Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Pierre Cardin, Hussein Chalayan, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (Valentino), André Courrèges, Giles Deacon, Christian Dior, Alber Elbaz (Lanvin), Mariano Fortuny, John Galliano (Christian Dior, Maison Margiela), Jean Paul Gaultier, Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton), Hubert de Givenchy, Madame Grès, Halston, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough (Proenza Schouler), Marc Jacobs (Louis Vuitton), Charles James, Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Junko Koshino, Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Helmut Lang, Louise Boulanger, Mary McFadden, Alexander McQueen (Givenchy), Issey Miyake, Noir Kei Ninomiya (Comme des Garçons), Norman Norell, Jean Patou, Miuccia Prada, Paul Poiret, Gareth Pugh, Paco Rabanne, Noa Raviv, Yves Saint Laurent (Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent), Raf Simons (Christian Dior), Maiko Takeda, Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy), threeASFOUR, Iris van Herpen, Madeleine Vionnet, Catherine Wales, Junya Watanabe (Comme des Garçons), Yohji Yamamoto, and others.
Manus x Machina is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. Shohei Shigematsu, Director of OMA New York, will lead the exhibition design in collaboration with the Met’s Design Department. OMA New York will also lead the concept design for The Costume Institute Benefit, and Raul Avila will produce the gala décor for the 10th consecutive year, this time in consultation with 59 Productions.