The Manus Machina Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I spent 3 glorious hours at the Manus Machina Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was damn crowded, but it was amazing how people instinctively stood in moving lines to see the creations, waiting for their turn.

I was in 7th heaven, staring wide eyed at the dresses, the beautiful art. Reminiscing back to my “olden” days when I was very fortunate to wear fantabulous gowns made by our very own, super talented Filipino designers.

To give you an overview of what the exhibit was about, this is from the museum’s website:

The Costume Institute’s spring 2016 exhibition explores how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.

With more than 170 ensembles dating from the early 20th century to the present, the exhibition addresses 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 mass production. It explores this ongoing dichotomy, in which hand and machine are presented as discordant tools in the creative process, and question the relationship and distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear.

The Robert Lehman Wing galleries, on the Museum’s first floor and ground level, have been transformed into a building-within-a-building using white scrims. The space houses a series of case studies in which haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles are decoded to reveal their hand/machine DNA. A 2014 haute couture wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel with a 20-foot train occupies a central cocoon, with details of its embroidery projected onto the domed ceiling. The scuba knit ensemble, one of the inspirations for the exhibition, stands as a superlative example of the confluence between the handmade and the machine-made–the pattern on the train was hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, machine-printed with rhinestones, and hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones.

I took as many fotos as I could, wanting to share this experience with my good friends in the fashion industry back home. Enjoy!

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The entrance door to the exhibit!

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“L’Elephant Blanc” evening dress by House of Dior.
Spring/summer 1958, haute couture.
“All too often, we forget that embroidery is still done by hand, just as it was in the eighteenth century. We can succeed in completely covering a dress with millions of sequins or beads placed one by one by fingers that, especially in our mechanical age, seem as though they come from fairy hands.” -Christian Dior

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“Venus” dress by the House of Dior.
Autumn/winter 1949-50, haute couture.
Machine-sewn, hand finished gray silk taffeta and tulle; hand-applique of gray silk tulle and horsehair petals, hand-embroidered with opalescent, gold, and silver gelatin sequins, feather-shaped paillettes, synthetic pearls, and clear crystals.

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Evening dress by Alexander McQueen.
Spring/summer 2012.
Machine-sewn white silk organza, hand-sewn to nude silk mesh; hand-embroidered with silver beads, clear crystals, and silver plastic feather-shaped paillettes; hand-applique of silver silk and metallic hand-shredded petals, hand embroidered with silver beads, clear crystals, and silver plastic feather-shaped paillettes.

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“Junon” dress by House of Dior.
Autumn/winter 1949-50, haute couture.
Machine-sewn, hand-finished pale green silk faille and taffeta foundation, hand-sewn pale blue silk tulle ebroidered with opalescent sequins, hand-applique of forty-five hand-cut pale blue silk tulle and horsehair petals, hand-embroidered with opalescent, blue, green, and orange gelatin sequins.

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(left) Evening dress by House of Givenchy, 1963.
Hand sewn red-orange cotton Mechlin-type lace hand embroidered with red-orange glass beads, tinsel, and pieces of coral.

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Dress  by Alexander McQueen.
Spring/summer 2012.
Hand- and machine-sewn nude silk organdy and net, hand-embroidered with red-orange glass beads, freshwater pearls, pieces of coral, and dyed shells.

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Dress by Proenza Schouler, 2015-16.
Machine-sewn black silk chiffon, hand-embroidered with silver plastic paillettes.

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Dress by Iris van Herpen, 2013-14, haute couture.
Machine-sewn black cotton twill, hand-painted with gray and purple polyurethane resin and iron filings, hand-sculpted with magnets.

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Dresses by Louis Vuitton Co.
Spring/summer 2016.
Machine-sewn white cotton poplin; machine sewn, hand-appliqued overlay of ivory silk-synthetic net, bonded with laser-cut silver metallic strips, hand-airbrushed with black, dark brown, blue, and gray pigment, hand-grommeted with copper metal.

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Dress by Prada.
Autumn/winter 2011-12.
Machine-sewn white silk organdy, hand-embroidered with opalescent plastic plaillettes and clear beads.

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Dress by Saint Laurent.
Spring/summer 1983, haute couture.
“The big difference between couture and ready-to-wera is not design. It is the fabrics, the handiwork, and the fittings. The act of creation is the same.” -Yves Saint Laurent.
“Known as the sardine dress, this formfitting sheath from
Saint Laurent’s 1983 Gilda collection.

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Dresses by the House of Chanel, Maison Margiela, and Louis Vuitton Co. (left to right)

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(left) Ensemble by Maison Margiela.
Spring/summer 1996.
Machine-sewn white synthetic knit, digitally printed with black
trompe l’oeil sequin motifs.

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Dress by Louis Vuitton Co.
Autumn/winter 2016-17.
Machine-sewn white silk twill, hand-embroidered with clear and white plastic sequins, overprinted with black pigments.

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Evening Ensemble by the House of Chanel, 1935.
Hand-sewn black silk crepe chiffon and black cotton bobbinet, hand-embroidered with black gelatin sequins; machine-sewn black silk slip, hand attached.

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Dress by Gareth Pugh.
Autumn/winter 2015-16.
Machine-sewn black silk-wool gazar with overlay of black mesh, hand-embroidered with black plastic drinking straws.

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Dress by Gareth Pugh.
Autumn/winter 2015-16.
Machine-sewn white silk-wool gazar with overlay of white mesh, hand-embroidered with white plastic drinking straws.

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Evening ensemble by Saint Laurent.
Autumn/winter 2000-2001, haute couture.
Dress: machine sewn, hand finished black lacquered silk panne velvet; cape: black silk organza, hand-embroidered by Lemarie with black iridescent rooster feathers.

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Dress by Iris Van Herpen.
Spring/summer 2009.
Machine-sewn black synthetic knit with machine- and hand-sewn hand-cut black plastic fringe, padded and hand-finished hem.

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Ensemble by Prada.
Autumn/winter 2007-8.
Machine-sewn black silk-wool jacquard with plain weave-cloque degrade, hand-embroidered with fringe of black rooster feathers and black plastic paillettes.

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Dress by the House of Chanel.
Autumn/winter 2015-16, haute couture.
Hand-sewn black silk tulle, hand-embroidered by Lemarie with black crystals and black silk passementerie hand-woven with hand-glued and -stitched black ostrich feathers.

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Dress by Gareth Pugh.
Autumn/winter 2015-16.
Machine-sewn black silk-wool gazar, hand-embroidered woth black plastic drinking straws.

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Evening dress by the House of Givenchy.
1966-67, haute couture.
Machine-sewn, hand-finished dark brown silk broadcloth, hand-glued with brown and white ostrich feathers.

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Evening dres by Saint Laurent.
Autumn/winter 1969-70, haute couture.
Machine-sewn, hand-finished nude silke gauze, hand-glued with white, black and brown bird-of-paradise feathers.

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Dress by Iris van Herpen.
Autumn/winter 2013-14, haute couture.
Hand-stitched strips of laser-cut nude silicone feathers, machine-sewn white cotton twill, hand-applied silicone-coated gull skulls with synthetic pearls and glass eyes.

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Evening dress by the House of Balenciaga.
Autumn/winter 1965-66, haute couture.
Machine-sewn, hand-finished pink silk net and pink silk Rachelle knit, trimmed with hand-glued pink ostrich feathers.

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Evening dress by the House of Dior.
Autumn/winter 2015-16, haute couture.
Machine-sewn, hand-finished, gray silk tulle and organza, hand-glued with blue, orange, purple, brown, and black rooster feathers by Lemarie.

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Ensemble by Alexander McQueen.
Autumn/winter, 2014-15, haute couture.
Cape: machine-sewn black silk organdy, hand-embroidered with black ostrich feathers, and purple, black, gray and green goose feathers;
dress: machine-sewn, hand-finished black silk chiffon, hand-embroidered with black ostrich feathers and purple, black, gray, and green goose feathers.

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Dress by the House of Chanel.
Spring/summer 2014, haute couture.
Machine-sewn white silk satin and tulle, hand-embroidered by Montex with black and trasnparent opalescent plastic sequins and opalescent cellophane fringe; hand-glued by Lemarie with black duck feathers; hand-finished.

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“Atmospheric Reentry” Headpiece and Bolero by Maiko Takeda, 2013.
Hand-cut transparent green-, blue-, and purple-ombre acetate fringe, hand-woven with machine-cut clear acrylic squares, hand-assembled with silver metal jump rings.

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“Atmospheric Reentry” Ensemble by Maiko Takeda, 2013.
Hand-cut transparent yellow- and green-ombre acetate fringe, hand-woven with machine-cut clear acrylic squares, hand-assembled with silver metal jump rings, cast-aluminum strap.

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Wedding Ensemble by the House of Chanel.
Autumn/winter 2014-15, haute couture.
Made from scuba knit, a synthetic material, the dress is hand molded, machine-sewn, and hand-finished. Maison Desrues hand embroidered the buttons with gold, glass, and crystals, and Atelier Montex hand-embroidered the medallion with glass, crystals, paillettes, anthracite cannetilles, and gold leather leaf motifs. The train of scuba knit and silk satin is machine-sewn and hand-finished. Lagerfeld’s hand-drawn design was digitally manipulated to give it the appearance of a randomized, pixelated baroque pattern and then realized through a complex amalgam of hand and machine techniques. Atelier Lunas used a heat press to transfer the rhinestones; Atelier Anne Gelbard painted the gold metallic pigment by hand; and the pearls and gemstones were hand-embroidered by Cecile Henri Atelier.

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“Perhaps it used to matter if a dress was handmade or machine-made, at least in the haute couture, but now things are completely different… The digital revolution has changed the world.” -Karl Lagerfeld

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This could probably be the closest I will ever get to a Chanel gown. 😀

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Dress by the House of Dior.
Autumn/winter 2012-13, haute couture.
Machine-sewn white silk organdy and blue silk net hand-embroidered by Hurel with blue, clear, and yellow sequins, clear bugle beads, and crystals; machine-sewn ivory silk crepe, tulle, and chiffon, hand-embroidered by Lesage with gold metal thread, pearls, pink crystals, and hand-cut pink flower petals; hand-finished.

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Dresses by Prada.
Autumn/winter 2015-16.
Machine-sewn pink synthetic jersey-gazar, self-fabric machine- and hand-sewn applique, hand-embroidered with clear glass beads, and pink, clear, red, and yellow set crystals.

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Dress by Louis Vuitton Co.
Spring/summer 2012.
Dress: machine-sewn blue silk-polyester crinkle organza, hand-embroidered with laser-cut white and blue plastic flowers, grommeted with clear crystals and silver metal studs, hand-finished; slip: machine-sewn white polyester organdy with machine-made broderie anglaise flower.

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Court Presentation Ensemble by Boue Soeurs, 1928.
Hand-sewn ivory silk tulle, machine-embroidered with couched silver cord in a foliate and vermicelli pattern; insets of silver-blue silk and metal lame with machine-picot edging; hand-appliqued with hand-embroidered white silk tulle with artificial flowers in pink, purple, green, yellow, and blue silk ribbon and floss.

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(left) Dress by Alexander McQueen, 2009.
Machine-sewn gray silk duchesse satin and nude silk georgette, hand-embroidered with silver metal flower petals and white synthetic pearls.
(right) Dress by Alexander McQueen, 2009.
Machine-sewn pale pink silk duchesse satin and nude silk georgette, hand-embroidered with pink enameled-metal flower petals.

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Ensemble by the House of Chanel.
Spring/summer 2010, haute couture.
Dress: pink silk chiffon and charmeuse, hand-embroidered with pink silk satin flowers, pearls, and pink frosted crystals, hand-finished; cape: 1,300 hand-pieced pink silk satin flowers by Lemarie with pink frosted crystals.

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Dress by Giambattista Valli, 2013.
Machine-sewn ivory silk tulle, hand-embroidered with handmade pale pink “cherry blossom” florets of ostrich, rooster, and goose feathers.

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“Duck” dress by Hussein Chalayan, 2000.
Machine-sewn pale pink polyester tulle, hand-gathered and sculpted into tufts and machine-stitched to pink cotton twill.

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Wedding Ensemble by the House of Chanel.
Autumn/winter 2005-6, haute couture.
This wedding ensemble was made by hand from start to finish. Lemarie created the clouds of white ostrich feathers and the twenty-five hundred white flowers that embellish this ensemble, Lesage applied them to the garment, along with barely visible sequins.

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This Chanel wedding ensemble required seven hundred hours of handwork.

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“Kaikoku” Floating dress by Hussein Chalayan, 2011-12.
Cast fiberglass painted with gold metallic pigment, hung with Swarovski crystal and pearled paper “pollens,” rear-entry panels with motorized hinges, radio-controlled digital handset.
Really cool. Check out how it works by clicking on this link: http://fashionista.com/2011/03/hussein-chalayan-fall-2011-japanese-influence-and-a-floating-dress

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Dress by the House of Dior.
Spring/summer 2014, haute couture.
This dress-made from two layers of white silk mousseline-is a paragon of fashion’s art of technical mastery and virtuoso execution.

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This dress by Dior combines the skills of two brodeurs: Atelier Montex embroidered the underdress with clear plastic crystals, red glass seed beads, and clear and white plastic flowers-shaped paillettes, while Broderies Vermont embroidered the overdress with white rayon florettes, red glass seed beads, iridescent flower-shaped paillettes, and small pieces of blue, black, and white silk fabric.

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Dresses by Prada.
Autumn/winter 2016-17.
Machine-sewn white silk organza, machine-embroidered with white, yellow, and pink cottol floral motifs superimposed with hand-embroidered plastic paillettes, rhinestones and beads.

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Ensemble by Christopher Kane.
Spring/summer 2014.
Sweater: machine-knit ivory cashmere, applique of white nylon net, machine- and hand-embroidered with green, black, and orange silk synthetic thread and yellow and opalescent sequins; skirt: machine-sewn nude silk-synthetic organza, laser-cut yellow polyester voile applique, machine- and hand-embroidered with green, black, and orange silk-synthetic thread.

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(left) “Vilmiron” dress by the House of Dior.
Spring/summer 1952.
Machine-sewn, hand-finished white silk organza, hand-embroidered with artificial flowers in green, pink, yellow, and white silk floss, hand-painted cotton, silk twist.

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“May” dress by the House of Dior.
Spring/summer 1953.
Machine-sewn, hand-finished white silk organza, hand-embroidered with artificial flowers, clover, and grass in green, pink, and purple silk floss.

IMG_7766 Evening dress attributed to Callot Soeurs, 1920.
Hand- and machine-sewn black silk chiffon with hand-sewn inserts of antique ivory bobbin-made tape lace with needle-made fillings, hand-applied handmade gold metallic braided passementerie.

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Dress by Prada.
Autumn/winter 2008-9.
Machine-sewn cream silk gabardine, digital-inkjet-printed in brown and black with digitally scanned and rendered trompe l’oeil guipure lace motif; hand finished.

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“Golden Lily” dress by Mario Schwab.
Autumn/winter 2008-9.
Machine-sewn digitally printed georgette silk with overlay of laser-cut black silk grosgrain.

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Evening dress by the House of Chanel, 1937-38.
Hand-sewn, machine-made black silk-rayon lace, hand-shaped with wire and horsehaird at sleeves; hand-attached, machine-sewn black rayon crepe liner; white linen floral corsage with die-cut, hand-embossed, and hand-assembled flowers.

IMG_7782 Dress by the House of Chanel.
Spring/summer 2013.
Machine-sewn white neoprene bonded with black cotton lace, black stretch satin; hand-finished.

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Suit by Saint Laurent, 1963.
Machine-sewn white cotton organdy with overlay of machine embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace; hand-finished.

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Cocktail dresses by the House of Balenciaga, 1963-64.
Hand-sewn silk machine-embroidered lace, hand-applied self-fabric flounces and silk satin bows.

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Dress by Iris van Herpen. Spring/summer 2015. Machine-sewn black polyester microfiber and cotton twill, hand-finished, hand-embroidered with clear thermoformed laser-cut acrylic, hand-joined with clear silicone connectors.

IMG_7791 Dress by Iris Van Herpen.
Autumn/winter 2011-12.
3-D printed (selective laser sintering) white polyamide by Materialise.

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Dress by Iris Van Herpen.
Autumn 2012.
3-D printed (stereolithography) dark orange epoxy by Materialise, hand-sanded and hand-sprayed with a technical transparent resin.

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Dresses by Alexander McQueen and Iris van Herpen.

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Dress by Alexander McQueen.
Spring/summer 2012.
Machine- and hand-sewn nude silk lace bonded with laser-cut black patent leather hand-sewn godets of nude silk tulle, hand-appliqued with nude silk lace motifs.

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Dress by Iris van Herpen.
Spring/summer 2015.
Machine-sewn, laser-cut, bonded navy patent leather.

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Dress by Iris van Herpen.
Spring/summer 2016.
Machine-sewn, bonded nude silk twill and cotton plain weave with overlay of nude cotton lace handwoven with laser-cut nude leather applique.

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Coat by Paul Poiret, 1919.
Machine-sewn black wool rep with white fur collar, hand-appliqued with white kidskin cutwork, hand-sewn hem and silk binding.

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Dress by Dolce & Gabbana.
Spring/summer 2013.
Machine- and hand-sewn white silk duchesse, hand-sewn with laser-cut green lamb fleece.

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Jacket by the House of Dior.
Autumn/winter 1997-98.
Hand-cut and hand-pieced white leather, machine-topstitched, with hand-sewn wire frame.

IMG_7817 (left) Dress by Noir Kei Ninomiya.
Spring/summer 2014.
Machine-sewn black polyester with machine-sewn overlay of laser-cut black synthetic leather hand-linked with silver metal jump rings and grommets.
(right) Dress by Noir Kei Ninomiya.
Spring/summer 2015.
Machine-sewn black polyester with laser-cut synthetic leather hand-linked with silver metal rivets in a lattice pattern.

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Dress by Valentino S.P.A.
Spring/summer 2016.
Machine-sewn black machine-made lace and silk tulle, hand-sewn and hand-riveted with strips of fringed black leather.

IMG_7824 Dress by the House of Dior.
Autumn/winter 2013-14.
Machine-sewn black silk taffeta with overlay of black cotton-synthetic mesh, hand embroidered with leather artificial flowers and black beads.

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Coat by Valentino S.P.A.
Spring/summer 2014, haute couture.
Machine- and hand-sewn black silk organdy, hand-embroidered with black leather and silk artificial flowers and feathers.

The Manus Machina exhibit will be open until August 14 this year, if you will be in the city of New York, drop by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and spend some time there. The pictures don’t do them justice, and you never know, like me, you may drool too.

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About Ky Malupa

Housewife. Mother of 2 angels. Gluten free, dairy free, corn free baker and eater. SLE patient. Hair and Makeup Artist. Image Enhancement Instructor.
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2 Responses to The Manus Machina Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  1. Sarah B. says:

    I loved the tour. Thank you for sharing! As a quilter and silk ribbon embroiderer, I can fully appreciate the time and effort that went into making all of these clothes. I don’t know which one was your favorite, but I know which one I would “dress” you in. It is the black 1935 Evening Ensemble by Chanel. It would look so elegant on you. No fluff and feathers-just understated elegance!! I know-it has some glam on it, but it is also understated!! You would be the Belle of the Ball !! ❤️🌵

    • Ky Malupa says:

      Hi Sarah! That black channel is pretty! I fell in love though with the “L’Elephant Blanc” evening dress by House of Dior! ❤ Thanks for reading my post, glad you enjoyed it!

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