Costume Institute Benefit May 2 with Co-Chairs Idris Elba, Jonathan Ive, Taylor Swift, and Anna Wintour, and Honorary Chairs Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld, and Miuccia Prada
Exhibition Dates: May 5–August 14, 2016
Member Previews: May 3−May 4
Exhibition Locations: Robert Lehman Wing and Anna Wintour Costume Center
The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that The Costume Institute’s spring 2016 exhibition will be manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology, on view from May 5 through August 14, 2016 (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 the impact of new technology on fashion and how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.
Ensemble, Sarah Burton (British, born 1974) for Alexander McQueen (British, founded 1992), fall/winter 2012–13. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo by Catwalking
“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. Often presented as oppositional, this exhibition proposes a new view in which the hand and the machine are mutual and equal protagonists.”
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 reflect on 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 the ongoing rhetoric of this dichotomy in which hand and machine are presented as discordant instruments in the creative process, and will question this oppositional relationship as well as the significance of the time-honored distinction between the haute couture and ready-to-wear.
Wedding dress, Karl Lagerfeld, (French, born Hamburg, 1938) for House of Chanel (French, founded 1913), fall/winter 2014–15 haute couture, front view. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo by Catwalking
Wedding dress, Karl Lagerfeld, (French, born Hamburg, 1938) for House of Chanel (French, founded 1913), fall/winter 2014–15 haute couture, back view. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo by Catwalking
The Robert Lehman Wing galleries on the Museum’s first floor and court level will present a series of pairings of handmade haute couture garments and their machine-made ready-to-wear counterparts. The galleries will be arranged enfilade (an axial arrangement of doorways connecting a suite of rooms with a vista down the whole length of the suite.), with a suite of rooms reflecting the traditional structure of a couture atelier and its constituent petites mains workshops for embroidery, feathers, pleating, knitting, lacework, leatherwork, braiding, and fringe work. These will be contrasted with ensembles incorporating new technologies including 3D printing, laser cutting, thermo shaping, computer modeling, circular knitting, ultrasonic welding, and bonding and laminating.
Evening dress, Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936-2008), 1969–70; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, 1983 (1983.619.1a, b)
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Dress, Silicon feather structure and moldings of bird heads on cotton base, Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984), fall/winter 2013–14. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo by Jean-Baptiste Mondino
In a departure from previous exhibits, The Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries will present a series of “in process” workshops, including a 3D-printing workshop where visitors will witness the creation of 3D-printed garments during the course of the exhibition.
Coat, Paul Poiret, (French, 1879–1944), ca. 1919; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. David J. Colton, 1961 (C.I.61.40.4). © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Designers in the exhibition will include Gilbert Adrian, Azzedine Alaïa, Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Cristobal Balenciaga, Boué Soeurs, Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Pierre Cardin, Hussein Chalayan, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Giles Deacon, Christian Dior, Alber Elbaz (Lanvin), Mariano Fortuny, John Galliano (Christian Dior, Maison Margiela), Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton), Hubert de Givenchy, Madame Grès, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough for Proenza Schouler, Yoshiki Hishinuma, Marc Jacobs (Louis Vuitton), Charles James, Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Helmut Lang, Mary McFadden, Issey Miyake, Miuccia Prada, Paul Poiret, Paco Rabanne, Noa Raviv, Yves Saint Laurent (Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent), Mila Schön, Raf Simons (Jil Sander, Christian Dior), Maiko Takeda, Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy), threeASFOUR, Philip Treacy, Iris van Herpen, Madeleine Vionnet, Alexander Wang, Junya Watanabe, and others.
“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 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 digital 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 hand-made, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary.” (Apple is the main sponsor of manus x machina.)
In celebration of the exhibition opening, the Museum’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.
manus x machina is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator of The Costume Institute. Shohei Shigematsu, Director of OMA New York, will lead the exhibition design in collaboration with the Met’s Design Department. Raul Avila will produce the Benefit décor, which he has done since 2007. The exhibition is made possible by Apple. Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.
A publication by Andrew Bolton will accompany the exhibition. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, and will be available in early May 2016.
A special feature on the Museum’s website, www.metmuseum.org/manusxmachina, provides information about the exhibition. (Follow on Facebook.com/metmuseum,
Instagram.com/metmuseum, and Twitter.com/metmuseum to join the conversation about the exhibition and gala benefit. Use #manusxmachina, #CostumeInstitute, and #MetGala on Instagram and Twitter.)