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Andrew Bolton’s brilliant exhibition, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is an exhibition for true fashion lovers, filled with the exquisite garments that make us dream.

You don’t need to be a seer to see that the fashion world is in uncertain times. Some of the most talented designers— Alber Elbaz, Raf Simons, Stefano Pilati, Christian Lacroix, Oliver Theyskens —are without jobs and the most storied fashion house, Dior, is without a creative director. The message in these realities might be that in 2016, talent, skill, and craft are less relevant to the success of a business than marketing, hype, and social media prowess.

Arranged over two floors, the exhibition showcases examples of 3D printing, laser cutting and other machine-based fabrication combined with work completed by hand.

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The first thing visitors encounter upon entering the new exhibit at the Met’s Costume Institute, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” is a wedding gown with a 20-foot train. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel’s fall 2014 haute couture collection, its construction is not only technologically innovative, it challenges the notion that couture is necessarily handmade.

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Wedding Ensemble by Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel

5-14-2016 12-59-52 PMDior meets Alexander McQueen

5-1-2016 2-18-01 PM Chanel and Iris van Herpen

5-14-2016 12-57-42 PM  Raf Simons for House of Dior

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 Raf Simons for House of Dior and Flying Saucer” Dress by Issey Miyake.

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 Christian Dior and Christopher Kane

 5-14-2016 12-58-52 PM    Iris van Herpen

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One of the most extraordinary pieces is a dress from Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, made of hand-stitched strips of laser-cut silicone feathers and real-life bird skulls with glass eyes.

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Yves Saint Laurent, Autumn Winter 1969 – 1970 Haute Couture

MANUS X MACHINE 3  Embroidery

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Gareth Pugh’s dresses made from straws, Iris van Herpen’s bird-like garment fashioned from silicone feathers and Maiko Takeda’s bristly headdresses are shown beside more traditional examples of plumasserie by designers including Cristóbal Balenciaga.

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Andrew Bolton in his first show as curator in charge of the Costume Institute.

 

“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

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