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

My trip to New York – Manus x Machina, Mood Fabrics and more

Last month I visited my family on the East Coast. I was able to make a quick trip to New York while I was there. Here’s a brief summary of my trip, with many photos.

My first stop was to Mood Fabrics where I searched for lightweight denim and bought these two to make a trouser jeans.

Denim fabric - Mood Fabrics - New York

The I wandered across the street to Sposabella Lace, which carries all sorts of bridal laces, and drooled over some stunning embroidered lace that was draped over the counter.

Embroidered lace - Sposabella Lace - NYC

Then I asked them if they had any netting, which isn’t easy to find. They had several colors. I bought a yard of navy and black netting, which I’ll add to a hat at some point.

Netting from Sposabella Lace - New York - CSews.com

Then I went uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view the stunning “Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology” exhibit, which “explores how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.” It was a fascinating showcase of jaw-dropping handcrafted and machine-made fashion.

I was truly surprised by how compelling this exhibit was. Vintage fashion was displayed next to 21st century designs, revealing the similarities and differences between the past and the present. I couldn’t stop taking photos with my phone. Here are a few highlights.

This 1958 Dior dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent is called L’Eléphant Blanc – or the White Elephant. It’s made of silk, metallic thread, glass, and plastic and was sewn by machine. This lovely confection has five layers of tulle. Behind the dress was a video that slowly panned up the dress, showing the beading in detail.

Manus x Machina - L'Eléphant Blanc - Dior - designed by Yves Saint Laurent - 1958

This is a 2010 Chanel dress and cape designed by Karl Lagerfeld. The dress is made of pink silk chiffon and charmeuse, hand-embroidered with pink silk satin flowers, pearls, and pink-frosted crystals, hand-finished. The cape is made from 1,300 hand-pieced pink silk satin flowers by Lemarié with pink frosted crystals. Wow.

Manus x Machina - Chanel dress - 2010 - Karl Lagerfeld - 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 sating flowers by Lemarié with pink frosted crystals

Notice how the flowers are of varying sizes? Here’s the bottom half of this cape. I love it. This could be a fun – albeit time-consuming – way to use fabric scraps. 😉

Manus x Machina - Chanel cape - 1,300 hand-pieced pink silk satin flowers by Lemarié with pink frosted crystals

Check out this laser-cut patent-leather dress by Iris van Herpen.

Manus x Machina - Laser-cut patent leather dress - Iris van Herpen

And look at this autumn/winter haute couture 2015-16 Chanel dress by Karl Lagerfeld. It’s made from black silk tulle with hand-embroidery by Lemarié with hand-glued and stitched black ostrich feathers.

Manus x Machina - Chanel - haute couture - black silk tulle, hand-embroidered by Lemarié with hand-glued and stitched black ostrich feathersblack

Lemarié has come up twice in this post so in case you were wondering who is Lemarié, it is a specialized workshop in France, founded more than 130 years ago, designing “feather and flower creations for luxury fashion houses.” They also do other techniques such as smocking, pleats, and ruffles.

The pleats on this ensemble are amazing. There was a video near these Dior garments that you could watch, showing the ribbon being sewn to the white silk organdy and how the fabric was hand pleated.

Manus x Machina - Dior pleated dress - Rafe Simons - spring/summer 2015 haute couture - hand-pleated, machine sewn, hand embroidered, piece-dyed grosgrain ribbon

I’ll need to do another post with more photos from this exhibit.

After the Met, I went back downtown to meet two sewcialists for lunch – Olgalyn, who designs and sells knit fabrics for her company O! Jolly! and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Yoshi, who I “met” via Instagram. She’s @garmentgirl on IG, Olgalyn is @ojolly, and I’m @csews. Here we are at Rin Thai on 23rd near 8th Avenue.

Yoshi, Chuleenan and Olgalyn at Rin Thai

It was a really fun trip! I’ll post more photos from Manus x Machina soon…

Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit at the Met