Costume Institute's 'Manus X Machina'

Iris van Herpen dress with silicon feather structure and moldings of bird heads on cotton base, fall/winter 2013–14

Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo by Jean-Baptiste Mondin

Looking for a little hyperspeed following this year’s China-focused exhibition, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s spring show, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” will feature 100-plus examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.

After extending the run of “China: Through the Looking Glass,” the exhibition wound up being the museum’s fifth most-visited one with a total of nearly 816,000 visitors. The technology component of the upcoming Apple-sponsored show is expected to further fuel interest internationally.

For “Manus x Machina,” The Costume Institute’s curator Andrew Bolton has gathered together a selection from designers including Gilbert Adrian, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Boue Soeurs, John Galliano for Christian Dior and Maison Margiela, Madame Grès, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, Noa Rvaiv, Raf Simons for Jil Sander and Christian Dior, Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy and threeASFOUR.

OMA New York’s Shohei Shigematsu will lead the exhibition design in collaboration with the Met’s Design Department.

Starting with the early days of haute couture in the 19th century, when the sewing machine was first put in motion, and then surging ahead to the handmade versus man-made debate that ensued with the march toward industrialization and mass production, the exhibition will explore the latter. Museum-goers are also meant to consider what sets haute couture apart from ready-to-wear as they walk through the Met’s Robert Lehman Wing galleries on the first floor and court level. Passing through the enfilade — an atelier and its accompanying workshops for embroidery, feathers, pleating, knitting, lacework and other adornments — visitors will find customized garments paired with more of-the-moment machine-made ready-to-wear. The latter will showcase 3-D printing, laser cutting, thermo-shaping, ultrasonic molding and other popular techniques.

Visitors also will get a close look of the process of 3-D printing in one of the workshops.

The Costume Institute’s spring show builds on the public’s increasing curiosity about augmented reality and other digitally enhanced museum experiences. To that end, Pratt Institute recently unveiled a new Master of Science degree program in Museums and Digital Culture, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation to focus on the use of digital technology and media in museums.

“Manus x Machina” opens to the public May 5. Apple’s chief design officer Jonathan Ive has signed up as a co-chair for the May 2 Met Gala, along with  Idris Elba, Taylor Swift and Anna Wintour. This year’s honorary chairs will be Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada, all of whom will have pieces in the show. Condé Nast has provided additional support.

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