Pleats featured in the Manus x Machina exhibit

Hi, yes, this is my third post about the Manus x Machina exhibit that was on display earlier this year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was fortunate to be in New York after the show was extended through early September. Why so many posts? Well, I took plenty of photos and my first two posts would be been extremely long if I tried to include all of them. As you may know, this stunning exhibit was a feast for the eyes. This particular post will focus on some of the garments with pleats.

I love the look of pleats but I don’t have very many pleated garments for two reasons: 1.) I don’t like pressing them (so tedious!) and it’s quite expensive to dry clean a garment with pleats; and 2.) I didn’t think pleats looked good on my figure. But I was only thinking of accordion pleats that started at the waist. Then I discovered the inverted pleats on the Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt. I’ve made four versions of that skirt. (Here’s a link to my linen Chardon.)

I hope you enjoy perusing the photos.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon; yellow wool silk crepe

This House of Dior haute couture ensemble designed by Rafe Simons for the spring/summer 2015 collection showcase hand-pleated silk organdy skirts. I love how the pleats in this version begin below the hips. Very flattering. I couldn’t get enough of them.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon; yellow wool silk crepe

Just look at the tiny pleats – all made by hand!

There was even a fascinating video showing how the pleats were made. It was on a small screen near the Dior mannequins. I found a longer version of the video by Refinery 29 on YouTube. The first two minutes of the video show the various parts of the skirt – hand dyeing the silk grosgrain ribbons, machine sewing the ribbons to the silk organdy, and then the fabric goes to Gérard Lognon, an atelier that creates various pleats for the fashion houses. The arrival at the pleater (plisseur) starts at 1:09 and you can see how they pleat the fabric. If you continue watching, you can also see runway models wearing these garments at 3:29. They are really full skirts on the models. There must be wearing layer and layers of organdy!

Here’s another detailed shot of the pleats. I zoomed in with my phone to get more detail.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon

I really like these other versions of the pleated ensembles, too.

Manus x Machina - House of Dior - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 ensemble - haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn white silk organdy hand-embroidered with silk grosgrain ribbon; black and green wool silk crepe

Of course, these weren’t the only pleated garments on display. No fashion exhibit with pleats would be complete without the 1920s silk charmeuse gowns designed by Mario Fortuny, an artist, architect, lighting designer, and creator of the now famous Fortuny pleats. He even patented his pleating process, which remains a mystery to this day.

Manus x Machina - Mario Fortuny pleated gowns - 1920s

Here’s a closer look at one of the Fortuny gowns. The pleats are very tiny, which distinguishes them from other pleated garments.

Manus x Machina - Fortuny pleated gown, 1920s haute couture

These white silk jersey evening gowns designed by Madame Gres feature hand-gathered and -stitched pleats.

Manus x Machina - Madame Gres evening gowns - hand-gathered and -stitched pleats

And then there were Issey Miyake’s striking designs. On the left are what the polyester-linen garments look like when flat.

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated top

Aren’t they amazing?

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated dress

It’s hard to believe that these flat pieces of fabric become such a dramatic silhouettes when worn.

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated dress

Here’s the back view of the circle dress. It’s dramatic and elegant. I wonder what happens when you sit down?

Manus x Machina - Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1990, pleated dress - back view

And here’s the last photo of this post – a dramatic wool and polyurethane cape designed by Junya Watanabe for the Commes de Garçons fall/winter 2015/2016 collection.

Manus x Machina - Commes des Garcons by Junya Watanabe - fall/winter 2015-16 wool and polyurethane jersey cape

What a range of pleats – from the 1920s to this century! Hopefully these photos give you an idea of the scope of this exhibit. I really liked the juxtaposition of garments from different eras placed next to each other so you could see certain motifs or design details through the decades. I think I have enough photos for one or two more Manus x Machina posts. So don’t be surprised to see another post…

Manus x Machina - House of Dior by Rafe Simons - white silk organdy hand-pleated skirts, haute couture

Manus x Machina - pleated garments - House of Dior, Issey Miyake and Fortuny - pleats

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3 Responses to “Pleats featured in the Manus x Machina exhibit”

  1. Kris
    December 30, 2016 at 4:23 am #

    The exhibit was wonderful! We visited twice and were so inspired by both the clever mechanization and the intensity of the handwork. I really like your blog!

    • December 30, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

      It was amazing. I wish I had been able to see it twice! So glad you like my blog. Thank you!

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