NEW YORK– The Costume Institute’s spring exhibition, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) opened on May 5 and runs through August 14. The exhibition opening was celebrated on Monday night at the museum’s Costume Institute Benefit, also known as the Met Gala. Co-chairing the event were British actor Idris Elba, designer Jonathan Ive, singer Taylor Swift, and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. Fashion designers Nicolas Ghesquiere, Karl Lagerfeld, and Miuccia Prada served as Honorary Chairs.
The event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding. Presented in the Museum’s Robert Lehman Wing and Anna Wintour Costume Center, the exhibition explores the impact of new technology on fashion and how designers use both the handmade and the machine-made in the creating haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear clothing.
“Fashion and technology are inextricably connected, more so now than ever before,” said MMA CEO and Director Thomas P. Campbell. “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.”
“Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and pret-a-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 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 digital technology.”
The red carpet sparkled with celebrities in silver metallics, including Cindy Crawford, Lady Gaga, and Nicole Kidman. Emma Watson, Bee Shaffer, and Zoe Saldana were among the guests wearing gowns with trains trailing dramatically on the museum steps. Claire Danes lit up the red carpet in an organza and fiber optic gown by Zac Posen.
Alongside fashion icons of previous centuries like Charles James and Coco Chanel, young designers from around the world have works on display in the exhibition, including Greek fashion designer Mary Katrantzou. Born in Athens to an interior designer mother and father in textile design, Katrantzou seemed destined for a career in design. She studied architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and then transferred to London’s Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design for her BA in textile design and her fashion MA. She then turned her focus on prints and womenswear. Having sold prints to designer Bill Blass while still studying fashion, Katrantzou managed to build her portfolio and by the time she graduated, she had created her signature style. Her designs are available in over 200 stores worldwide including US retailers Barneys and Neiman Marcus. Her collection available at Topshop sold out within days in 2011. In 2014, she began a collaboration with Adidas on clothing and footwear. With a focus on the way prints can alter the shape of a woman’s body, Katrantzou’s designs regularly appear on the red carpet. Among the famous women who have donned her designs, First Lady Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, and Alicia Vikander picked up her Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a dress from the Mary Katrantzou Spring Summer 2016 collection.