All the questions, asked in the previous post, were answered after I finished walking through the exhibition. Whether you are a fashion lover or not, you cannot but marvel at human creativity and ingenuity. Putting the hand-made against the machine-made is as if you are trying to put mind against body. How can the body exist independently of its mind’s commands? There is continuity and interconnectivity. And there always will be. And the curators of the exhibition expertly show off this continuity by displaying all garments, whatever their age and technological achievement, on the same old-fashion mannequins as if they are still in the designer’s atelier.
But this continuity can be disrupted, and it is being disrupted already. Take away a key ingredient in the process of conceptualisation-experimentation-creation, and disruption becomes disorientating. Take away the ingredient of time and the process becomes a case of chasing your own tail.
Alber Elbaz at a lecture associated with the exhibition, very eloquently sums-up why ‘Manus x Machina’ is important. He said “It was almost an exhibition that was done for designers and with designers’ work. It was about workmanship, about know-how, about time, and the one thing that impressed me the most was that it was almost silent. . . .” (from vogue.com). But how does this kind of silence go with our obsession of over-exposure, and shouting about everything we do from the rooftop?
In this post, we are looking at technologically brilliant garments; where technology marries well with traditional ways of dress-making. These garments could be science fiction but are truly wearable. We look at avant-garde pieces made of resin and plastic. But, we also look at techniques such as pleating and plisse making. These techniques were considered ground-breaking, almost science fiction when they were first used, but now can be found everywhere…
All by Iris van Herpen. On the left Haute Couture AW 2012: 3D-printed (stereolithography) epoxy by Materialise, hand-sanded and hand-sprayed with a technical transparent resin. Middle, Haute Couture AW 2013-14: hand-stitched strips of laser-cut silicone feathers, machine-sewn cotton twill, hand-applied silicone-coated gull skulls with synthetic pearls and glass eyes. On the right Prêt-à-Porter AW 2011-12: 3D-printed (selective laser sintering) polyamide by Materialise.
(L-R) ThreeAsFour Prêt-à-Porter SS 2016: machine-sewn neoprene and nylon mesh, hand-applique of 3D-printed (selective laser sintering) resin and nylon by Materialise. Proenza Schouler (designed by Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough) Prêt-à-Porter AW 2013-14: machine-sewn nylon mesh, pieced with ceramic “stone” custom lace, bonded with ultrasonic-welded satin viscose crepe “embroidery”.
(L-R) House of Givenchy (designed by Hubert de Givenchy) Haute Couture 1963: hand-sewn cotton Mechlin-type lace, hand-embroidered with glass beads, tinsel, and pieces of coral. Alexander McQueen (designed by Sarah Burton) Prêt-à-Porter SS 2012: hand and machine-sewn silk organdy and net, hand-embroidered with glass beads, freshwater pearls, pieces of coral, and dyed shells.
Hussein Chalayan Prêt-à-Porter SS 2000: machine-sewn polyester tulle, hand-gathered and sculpted.
Both dresses House of Givenchy (designed by Riccardo Tisci). On the left Haute Couture AW 2010-11: machine-sewn silk tulle, hand-appliqued with machine-made lace and hand-braided silk georgette lace. On the right Haute Couture AW 2011-12: machine-sewn silk tulle, hand-sewn applique of silk lace and pony skin, hand-embroidered pearls and goose feathers.
Both dresses by Mary McFadden. On the left: Prêt-à-Porter 1986: machine-sewn and “Marii” machine-pleated polyester charmeuse, hand-applied metallic passementerie. On the right: Prêt-à-Porter 1987: machine-sewn and “Marii” machine-pleated polyester charmeuse, and silk chiffon, hand-stitched with hand-embroidered panels of polychrome sequins.
(L-R) Madame Grès (Alix Barton) Haute Couture 1987: machine-sewn silk organza, hand-stitched and hand-applied pleats of silk jersey, hand-stitched bindings and neck and arms. Helmut Lang Prêt-à-Porter AW 2004-5: machine-sewn silk organza, hand-stitched and hand-applied pleats of silk crepe, horsehair fringe hand-glued and machine-bound to cotton canvas.
House of Balenciaga (designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere) Prêt-à-Porter SS 2003: machine-sewn polyamide power mesh, machine-topstitched with elastic, hand-stitched and hand-applied pleats of polyamide mesh.
All dresses by Mariano Fortuny. (L-R) Haute Couture Ca. 1935: hand-pleated and hand-sewn silk charmeuse, hand-embroidered with Venetian glass beads. Haute Couture 1920s: hand-pleated and hand-sewn silk charmeuse, hand-embroidered with Venetian glass beads and hand-knotted silk cord. Haute couture Ca. 1932: hand-pleated and hand-sewn silk charmeuse, hand-embroidered with Venetian glass beads.
Vionnet S.P.A (designed by Hussein Chalayan) Demi-Couture SS 2014: machine-sewn silk organza and silk compound weave, printed ‘a la disposition’ with pattern-drafting paper motifs, hand-embroidered in silk yarn with dot and cross motifs.
(L-R) Alexander McQueen (designed by Sarah Burton) Prêt-à-Porter SS 2012: machine and hand-sewn silk lace bonded with laser-cut patent leather, hand-sewn godets of silk tulle, hand-appliqued with silk lace motifs. Iris van Herpen Prêt-à-Porter SS 2015: machine-sewn, laser-cut, bonded patent leather. Iris van Herpen Prêt-à-Porter SS 2016: machine-sewn, bonded silk twill and cotton plain weave with overlays of cotton lace handwoven with laser-cut leather applique.
Both dresses by Gareth Pugh Prêt-à-Porter AW 2015-16: machine-sewn silk-wool gazar with overlay of mesh, hand-embroidered with plastic drinking straws.
Maiko Takeda 2013: hand-cut transparent ombré acetate fringe, hand-woven with machine-cut clear acrylic squares, hand-assembled with metal jump rings.
(L-R) Thom Browne Prêt-à-Porter SS 2013: laser-cut ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam. Both outfits Alexander McQueen (designed by Sarah Burton) Prêt-à-Porter AW 2012-13: laser-cut white pony skin bonded to black leather, machine-sewn and hand-finished with Mongolian wool. Coat by Paco Rabanne Prêt-à-Porter 1967: machine-sewn wool knit with overlay of hand-cut leather and astrakhan hand-joined by metal rings.
Footnote: Apologies for the quality of some of the photos. I was using my iPhone but the exhibition lighting was impossible. A little disappointing for an exhibition put together with the help of Apple.