Manus x Macchina: Just Brilliant

Fashion fascinates me.

There is a glorious feeling that overwhelms you whenever you find the perfect outfit. A simple task of picking out what to wear can turn an ordinary day into a personal adventure with the clothes to match. When you feel amazing in what you wear there is a certain air about you and a confidence that buds. For centuries fashion has been a prominent feature in society because of power and beauty it has to capture an emotion making it an art form. With thousands of options to make your own unique style, fashion has become a community in and of itself that can take others on a wondrous journey. I recently had the pleasure of going on a fashion journey when I attended the Manus x Macchina: Fashion in the Age of Technology exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Nicolas Ghesquière (French, born 1971) for House of Balenciaga, Dress, spring/summer 2003. Courtesy of Balenciaga Archives, Paris. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope.

Nicolas Ghesquière (French, born 1971) for House of Balenciaga, Dress, spring/summer 2003. Courtesy of Balenciaga Archives, Paris. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope.

This stunning visual experience takes you on a journey through the convergence of technology within high fashion with over 170 garments. Needless to say, the exhibit took my breath away, from the moment I stepped through the pale grey painted portal. From the shimmering gold and silver fabrics to the intricacy of small details in wedding trains to the subtle placement of a feather, straw, motor (!), ruffle or pleat – the show married my two passions: technology and fashion. What truly brought the show over the edge was the flow of the presentation of the breathtaking garments in themed collections, organized by fabric and then by designer. Every detail and piece of the show was carefully selected to bring about a truly beautiful exploration into the genius of designers, who rise to the ultimate challenge of merging intricate handiwork with machine reproduction. Also on display were clothing made from radical materials – like metal, plastic, silicone and rubber; and the unusual use or manipulation of fashion’s mainstays: silk, cotton, wool, leather, lace and lycra.

Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, autumn/winter 2013–14. haute couture. Dutch. Silicone, cotton. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, autumn/winter 2013–14. haute couture. Dutch. Silicone, cotton. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

While the show itself is stunning in it’s own right, the idea and messaged behind it was what truly brought it all together for me. In today’s modern age it is easy to lose sight over the value of hand crafted beauty to favor the efficiency of machine made ensembles. However, by choosing pieces from the early 20th century to the present, the show symbolizes the beauty in both the hand crafted and technology assertive ensembles. In a strange way the exhibit was a reminder of just why I love splitting my time between Rome and New York. It is as if Rome is my Manus hand crafted beauty while New York is my Machina modern muse.

In one of my own photos, an array of gem-colored dresses in hand-dyed silk.

In one of my own photos, an array of gem-colored dresses in hand-dyed silk.

As with most exhibitions, the last gallery leads to the museum bookstore – a part of the show i always enjoy. There, I see what the graphic minds like myself have invented to accompany and package the exhibition as a takeaway. In the ante-store for this show, I was not disappointed. I picked up and bought the artfully designed book without question. One look at the perforated cover with an overlayed X on the cover and the sleek plastic encasing, I knew I had to relish whatever was inside this as an example of gorgeous graphic design on my own time.

Manus x Macchina exhibition catalog. Photo courtesy The Met.

Manus x Macchina exhibition catalog. Photo courtesy The Met.

Regardless if one is a fan of the hand crafted Manus fashions of the world, or the advanced technology driven Machina fashions, the Manus x Machina exhibit is a must see for anyone who can find their way to New York before it’s closing on September 5th.