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Brief Published: 10 May 2016

Craft + Innovation: Manus x Machina

Manus x Machina exhibition display

The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has revealed Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, a new exhibition that explores how designers from the 19th century to the present day are reconciling handmade and machine-made fashion.

Featuring 170 international pieces across two floors, the exhibition doesn’t focus on the future of fashion, but rather the evolution of design techniques and how they’ve been enhanced through technology.

Displayed in seven sections – Pleating, Embroidery, Leatherwork, Lacework, Artificial Flowers, Featherwork and Tailoring/Dressmaking – the exhibition represents the main tenets of garment construction as laid out in French philosopher Denis Diderot’s 1751 Encyclopedia of arts, sciences and crafts.

The exhibition’s centrepiece is a Chanel wedding dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld for the A/W 14 haute couture collection. The white gown features a 20 ft train, machine-printed with rhinestones in a computer-generated design. It is also hand-painted with gold pigment and hand-stitched with gemstones to create the illusion of a pixelated pattern. Details of the design are projected on the room’s curved ceiling, enveloping the space.

Elsewhere, the exhibition addresses the invention of the sewing machine and the founding of haute couture, while a 3D-printed corset by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen and a remote-controlled fibreglass dress by British-Turkish designer Hussein Chalayan provide a glimpse into 21st-century techniques.

Manus x Machina will be on display until August 14 2016.

For more on wearable technology and new clothing construction innovations, see Future Customisation: Coded Couture, Wearable Technology Show 2016, Game Changers: Decoded Fashion and Fabric Futures: 3D Printing.