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.
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.
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.
I really like these other versions of the pleated ensembles, too.
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.
Here’s a closer look at one of the Fortuny gowns. The pleats are very tiny, which distinguishes them from other pleated garments.
These white silk jersey evening gowns designed by Madame Gres feature 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.
Aren’t they amazing?
It’s hard to believe that these flat pieces of fabric become such a dramatic silhouettes when worn.
Here’s the back view of the circle dress. It’s dramatic and elegant. I wonder what happens when you sit down?
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.
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…
The Manus x Machina exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a gorgeous show exploring “how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.” There was meticulous craftsmanship in all of the work – regardless of how it was made.
It was a lot to take in: “more than 170 ensembles dating from the early 20th century to the present,” according to the Met’s website. I took a lot of photos with my phone, which you’ll see in this post. You can also see a few other photos in my earlier post about my trip to NYC. [Warning: I’ve been having some trouble with images on my blog so if some images don’t load, try reloading the page. If that doesn’t work, please let me know. Thank you!]
I saw the show in August on a quick jaunt to New York – just before I closed in early September. I would have loved to see it again when I wasn’t swooning over the dresses and so in awe of the stunning details, but alas, I didn’t have time for a return visit before it closed.
Speaking of stunning detail, check out this House of Dior “Junon” dress from the fall/winter 1949-1950 haute couture collection. Wow.
It is machine sewn but the silk faille and taffeta were hand finished and the silk tulle was embroidered with sequins, plus there were “forty-five hand-cut pale blue silk tulle and horsehair petals, hand-embroidered with opalescent, blue, green, and orange gelatin sequins. Uh – wow again.
Here’s a close-up shot. I couldn’t get too close to the dress so this is using the zoom on my phone but you can see that the sequins are all over each “petal.” I can’t imagine how many hours went into constructing this dress. And this is why couture dresses cost tens of thousands of dollars. The labor alone must be a fortune.
I admit that I really didn’t view this exhibit with a critical eye because I was ogling the striking ensembles. What fascinated me was the juxtaposition of dresses from one era positioned next to dresses created decades before – but loosely linked by certain design elements – such as pleats, feathers, flowers, lace, or beads. I was more focused on individual garments so I didn’t take many where you can see the mix of different eras or many garments in one shot. (See this link on the Met’s site for photos with several garments together.)
But here’s one photo, which is a great example of Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton’s curatorial skills. On the left is a 1963 evening gown by Givenchy – made of red-orange cotton lace, hand embroidered with glass beads, tinsel and pieces of coral; on the right is a 2012 Alexander McQueen gown. I didn’t take a photo of the exhibit label for the McQueen garment so I don’t have any details but as you can see, it’s loaded with coral, shells, and various beads. A nice complement to the Givenchy gown. I think you’d have better luck sitting down in the Givenchy dress. The McQueen outfit has shells in the back, too. Good luck sitting down.
The following photos are (sort of) in order of my wanderings of the exhibit. (There are many things I didn’t photograph.)
Here’s an Iris van Herpen dress – fall/winter 2013-14 haute couture – made from black-cotton twill, hand-painted with purple and polyurethane resin and iron filings, hand-sculpted with magnets. Magnets! OK, I would never wear this but I thought the materials were fascinating. It would be like wearing sculpture – but I guess you wouldn’t want to be around any electronics. Who knows what the magnets would do to your cell phone?
Here are a pair of Norman Norell evening dresses, 1965, pret-a-porter, machine-sewn silk jersey, hand-embroidered with gelatin sequins, machine-finished, and hand-hemmed. You’d need a svelte figure to pull this off.
A 1928 court presentation ensemble designed by Boué Soeurs (French, active 1899-1957), haute couture – hand-sewn silk tulle, machine-embroidered with couched silver cord in a foliate and vermicelli pattern, machine-picot edging, hand-appliquéd with hand-embroidered silk tulle with artificial flowers. I’m assuming that this dress is worn when one is presented to royalty and you don’t sit down in their presence so a skirt with pouf is fine.
Here are two more by Alexander McQueen – from spring/summer 2009, pret-a-porter, machine sewn silk duchesse satin and nude silk georgette, hand-embroidered with silver metal flower petals and synthetic pearls. I wonder how stiff those flowers are and whether it’s uncomfortable to sit down in one of these. The length is rather short – micro-mini so maybe you don’t want to sit down. 😉
This frothy confection is the “Duck dress” by Hussein Chalayan, from his spring/summer 2000, pret-a-porter collection – made from machine-sewn pink polyester tulle, hand-gathered and sculpted, machine-stitched to pink cotton twill. I’d like to pet this dress.
This elegant evening dress is attributed to French designer Callot Soeurs, ca. 1920, haute couture – hand and machine-sewn black silk chiffon with hand sewn inserts of antique ivory bobbin-made tape lace, and hand-applied handmade gold metallic braided passementerie.
The “Golden Lily” dress by Marios Schwab – fall/winter 2008-09, pret-a-porter – machine-sewn digitally printed georgette silk with overlay of laser-cut black-silk grosgrain. Awesome use of laser cutting – but I’d be afraid of catching my sleeve on something and tearing it.
This is a 19th-century Irish wedding dress (ca. 1870) – hand-crocheted cotton lace with three-dimensional motifs (roses, lilies of the valley, hanging fuchsias, morning glories, buds and berries, and flat and folded leaves and ferns). I wonder how long it took to crochet this dress. Maybe you start crocheting it years before your wedding day, before you’re engaged, in the hopes that you will get married. Or maybe you’re wealthy and hire a team of people to crochet this for you. I’d love to know the history of this dress.
Here’s a detail of the crochet – amazing what you can do with a crochet hook!
A lovely Chanel evening dress, 1937-38, haute couture, hand-sewn, machine-made black silk-rayon lace, hand-shaped with wire and horsehair at sleeves, hand-attached, machine-sewing black rayon crepe liner, white linen floral corsage with die-cut, hand embossed and hand-assembled flowers. It’s hard to believe that this was designed more than 75 years ago.
How’s this for a modern take on lace? This ensemble by British designer Christopher Kane (spring/summer 2013) features a machine-sewn grey synthetic organza shirt and a machine-sewn white silk organdy skirt with hand-stitched overlay of 3-D printed black polyurethane bows. The 3-D printing is so cool. I wonder if it’s squishy – would it be like sitting on licorice whips? Or would it be hard, like sitting on extension cords?
And here’s the last photo I took of the lace garments – and my last photo of this post. I have more photos but I’ll put those in a separate post. This Saint Laurent suit is from the spring/summer 1963 haute couture collection. It’s machine-sewn white cotton organdy with overlay of machine embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace, hand finished. I love the 1960s collar and the delicate lace and cutwork. Be still my heart. It’s gorgeous.
I hope you enjoyed the photos – sorry some are not as in-focus as I’d like but they do give you an idea of the scope of this exhibit. If you saw the exhibit, what were your favorite pieces?
Stay tuned for more Manus x Machina photos in an upcoming post. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
Check out this laser-cut patent-leather dress by 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.
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.
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.
It was a really fun trip! I’ll post more photos from Manus x Machina soon…