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Metropolitan reveals early details about Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
Thomas Campbell (L) and Andrew Bolton attend the Costume Institute's "Manus x Machina" exhibition press presentation at Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 15, 2016 in New York City. Andrew Toth/Getty Images/AFP.

NEW YORK, NY.- 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 and Anna Wintour Costume Center, 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.

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 100 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear, dating from an 1880s Worth gown to a 2015 Chanel suit. 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 will question this relationship and the significance of the long-held distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear.

The Robert Lehman Collection galleries on the Museum’s first floor and ground level will present a series of case studies contrasting haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles to unravel the realties and mythologies of the hand/machine conundrum. Traditional métiers of the haute couture, including embroidery, featherwork, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework, and leatherwork will be presented alongside innovative processes, such as 3-D printing, circular knitting, computer modeling, bonding and laminating, laser cutting, and ultrasonic welding.

The Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries will resemble a traditional maison de couture with ateliers of tailoring and dressmaking. Toiles and prototypes will be presented as garments in the making, and as monuments to ideas.

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.

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