Manus x Machina

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Have you ever witness something so beautiful that tears rolled down your cheeks because of the excitment. Well, I cried a little during my recent visit to the MET. 

Manus x Machina, the newest exhibit from the Anna Wintour Costume Intitute,
is structured around the métiers or trades, of dressmaking outlined in the Encyclopedie, one of the most provocative publications of the French Enlightenment. It placed these trades on the same level as the arts and sciences, which had been regarded as the noblest forms of scholarly activity since Greek antiquity. The elevantion of these and other métiers served as an incendiary challenge to established prejudices against manual labor, biases that the authors sought to refute by showing the creativity and complexity such work involved. In fact, the Encyclopédie, detailing as it does the skills and tools requisite for these arts, provides an erstwhile articulation of the exhibition's theme - manus x machina, hand x machine. 

The first suit starting on the left is a classic Chanel tweed suit. The next three samples are made out of 3D printed "tweed" from the Chanel FW 2015 collection designed by Karl Lagerfeld.
The interesting about this pieces isn't just the material or execution, but the fact that couture can be made now with a machine. There's a new way to create perfectly tailored suits just by printing them. GENIUS!

The "métiers" or "arts"  defined in the Encyclopedie remain central to the haute couture today, and provide the organizing principles of this exhibition.
Embroidery, featherwork, lacework, leatherwork and artificial flowers as well as the traditional divisions of a couture house are explored througout the entire display which consists of 170 pieces, and superimposes creations of designers who mostly use technological resources like Nicholas Ghesquiere, Issey Miyake, Karl Lagerfeld and Iris van Herpen. antagonistic to those like Prada, Saint Laurent, Cristobal Balenciaga and Dior who focus on manual labor.

Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

Burtons created the scale-type pagé with little feathers made out of metall which were cut, carved and shaped by hand

The main goal is to achieve that spectator is able to see the evolution of the industry starting from the sewing machine to new technologies such as laser cutting, computer modeling, ultrasonic welding and 3D printing.
In essence, the exhibition unfolds as a contemporary adaptation of the Encyclopedie and tries to make the viewer reflect about the new processes that challenge traditions,

Today, making a garment using technology can result in a process equally or even more challenging than the one made entirely by hand.
Yuxtaposition in white. White dresses against a solely computer designed and then 3D printed ensamble by Iris Harpen

As mentioned by Andrew Bolton himself, the curator of this magnificent display:
"I wanted to challenge the assumption hand in front of the machine. You always think that the hand is representative of superiority or luxury, the machine is lower. However, sometimes a garment produced by a machine carries a much slower and more complex process. "

This is not one of my fondest creatins, but the work involved it's exquisite. The garnment in the right is a faux fur coat that was covered in different shades of green painting to create an ombré pattern. However, the painting was mixed with aluminium powder so that before the painting could set, the designer hold a magnet and the fibers would go up and create different patterns following the movement of the magnet. Once the painting was dry, you could appreciate the work.

The work on this Balenciaga coat is SUBLIME. Inspired in Butterflies and the overlapping of it's colored scales that create the intrincate patternson their wings. The designer chose thousands of feathers, each one of a SINGLE color to then apply them one by one to create a multicolored kaleidoscope. Each feather has just one color, so, to create this... The pattern had to be planned carefully.
This pieces were very complex to make according to their designer Nicholas Guesquiere. The cellulois sequins wee cut into strips by laser, then machine glued onto tulle. When the fabric came back from the factory, he didn´t like it, but as he began to fold and drape, bubbles bgan to form, and the sequins took on the shape of a croissant... Because the sequins were too shiny, they spray-painted them- by hand- to createshadows and make them look more dimmensional and imperfect.

This wonderful dress is completely made out of leather flowers sculpted with heat and cut by laser. Designed by Maria Grazia Chiusi and Pier Paolo Piccoli head designers at Valentino.

Among the many factors that inspired the creation of this exhibit, is the understanding that there is no competition between these two different types of manufactoring, which today complement each other and constitute the DNA of modern fashion.

If you are planning to go to NYC soon, you must check it out.

R. Woodworth

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