Apple Hits The Met As The Costume Institute Plans A Tech-Inspired Show For Next Spring

IrisVanHerpen-JBMondino-MetMuseumWhile the next Costume Institute exhibition isn't expected until next month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has already announced its Spring 2016 blockbuster show, manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology (lower case specified). The exhibition will explore how designers are negotiating the impact of all sorts of technological advances on the still artisanally-based business of creating high fashion.
In a statement announcing the upcoming exhibition, Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute explained, "Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other. manus x machina will challenge the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy, and propose a new paradigm germane to our age of digital technology."
To support the exhibition, the Met has landed the perfect major sponsor, Apple, who will be represented at the Met Gala that always launches the show by its celebrated Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive who has his own point of view on the marriage of design and technology, "Both the automated and handcrafted process require similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise. There are instances where technology is optimized, but ultimately it's the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it's machine-made or hand-made, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary."
The exhibition will include examples dating from the 1880s to designer offerings from 2015 that show the impact of technology on fashion starting with the invention of the sewing machine up to 3-D printed clothing which will be demonstrated in workshops where visitors will see garments being created. Like recent spring Costume Institute exhibitions, manus x machina will utilize the entire gallery space of the Anna Wintour Costume Center as well as another section of the museum, in this case, The Robert Lehman Wing galleries. A long list of designers featured includes big names like Chanel, Alexander Wang and Prada as well as technical innovators of the past like Mary McFadden, Issey Miyake, Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne as well as contemporary envelope pushers like Iris van Herpen (dress, pictured above) and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.
And, oh yeah, there's the big Met Gala.
In addition to Apple's Jony Ive, the ever fascinating party will be co-chared by Anna Wintour, actor Idris Elba and general media phenomenon Taylor Swift (this was bout to happen, obviously). Miuccia Prada, karl Lagerfeld and Louis Vuitton's Nicolas Ghesquière will serve as honorary chairs, so look for lots of celebrity guests to be wearing in Prada, Chanel, Fendi and Vuitton.
The exhibition is set open on May 5, so make your plans early. The Museum is offering advance ticket purchases to avoid long waits. Recent costume Institute shows have wildly exceeded expectations even without singular designer subjects. the recent China Through The Looking Glass broke records and featured a spectacular exhibition design that manus x machina is sure to top.
In the meantime, you have only a little over a month to wait to see the Costume Institute's next show, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, which opens on November 19th and runs through February 21st.


The Costume Institute Will Take A Voyage To China This Spring

It is not uncommon for a widow to go on an extravagant trip to lift her spirits after she has completed an appropriate period of mourning, so it is somehow fitting that after this Fall's upcoming exhibition, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning a grand tour of China with Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film, and Fashion. In a statement, Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute who is organizing the exhibition tells us, 

“From the earliest period of European contact with China in the 16th century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with fantasy, romance, and nostalgia. In an intricate process of translation and mistranslation similar to the game of ‘Telephone’–which the British call ‘Chinese Whispers’–designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a fantastic pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.”

The Costume Institute will be joining forces with Met's Department of Asian Art for the exhibition which will be spread over several parts of the Museum —the first time since 2006 that it has teamed up with another curatorial department. The different sections will start in The Anna Wintour Costume Center’s Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery which will feature, as the Met tells us, "a series of 'whispers' or conversations through time and space, focusing on Imperial China; Nationalist China, especially Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s; and Communist China, with an emphasis on changing images of Chairman Mao'. Scenes from films by noted Chinese directors like will provide extra illustration, and Chinese "women of style" such as Madame Wellington Koo, Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soong May-Ling), and Empress Dowager Cixi will be spotlighted.
Upstairs, in the Chinese Galleries, visitors will find fashion from the 18th century to the present displayed with Chinese decorative arts, and then, in the Astor Court, the exhibition will turn to Chinese opera. The performer Mei Lanfang will be highlighted, and ensembles from John Galliano's lavish Spring 2003 Haute Couture collection for Christian Dior which he inspired will be displayed along with Mr. Mei's original costumes.
The show looks to be one of the Costume Institute's most ambitious undertakings to date, and the museum is turning to acclaimed Chinese film director Wong Kar Wai and his longtime collaborator William Chang for artistic direction in creating the wide-ranging exhibition. Mr. Wong will also design the 2015 Costume Institute Gala Benefit that traditionally kicks off the Spring exhibitions. Hong Kong born fashion and business mogul Silas Chou will be the ball's Honorary Chair with co-chairs Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, Chinese film star Gong Li, Yahoo! president and CEO Marissa Mayer, Wendi (formerly Mrs. Rupert) Murdoch, and Met Ball stalwart Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast. The exhibition opens to the public on May 7, 2015, so mark your calendar, and look for an explosion of cclebrity chinoiserie at the Met Ball on the 4th.

Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film, and Fashion (Metropolitan Museum of Art Press Release)


The Costume Institute Will Wear Widows' Weeds For The Fall

MourningEnsemble1870-72The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has officially announced that their next exhibition will focus on the tradition of mourning clothes. If you are thinking that that will make for a very somber Met Ball, don't worry. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire (Not to be confused with the 1992 Robert Zemeckis film Death Becomes Her about the quest for eternal youth starring Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep) will open on October 21, well before the next gala. Since the opening of the newly renovated Anna Wintour Costume Center earluier this year, the Costume Institiute will once again be mounting two shows a year, and this one will be the museums first fall show since 2007. You can be sure that when the next gala rolls around, the theme will be somewhat more festive.

And speaking of the show, don't presume that it will necessarily be a downer. Curated by Harold Koda, the Institute's Curator in Charge along with Assistant Curator Jessica Regan, Death Becomes Her will chronicle 100 years of mourning dress from 1815 to 1915 allowing it to easily cover, among several other periods, the death-obsessed Victorian Era. The show will be designed to offer more than just sociological insight, and there's a lot more than weeping involved. “The predominantly black palette of mourning dramatizes the evolution of period silhouettes and the increasing absorption of fashion ideals into this most codified of etiquettes,” says Koda,  “The veiled widow could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances.  As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order."

Like the current Charles James show, the upcoming exhibition will allow for greater display of the museum's costume collection than in the past few years, and will include mourning gowns worn by both Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law, Queen Alexandra, who, as royals, had a great influence on the mourning traditions of their times. So don't expect just a dour parade of dreary dresses. This Fall, the Costume Institute will use a little death to tell us more about life.