Man versus technology, Hand versus machine, Manus x Machina: the constant dichotomy between the hand-sewn and the machine-produced that has driven fashion since the onset of the sewing machine forms the theme of this year’s Costume Institute annual exhibition. The theme was shared with this year’s Met Gala, which marked the opening of the exhibition.
Many of the gala’s attendees walked down the red carpet in various interpretations of the exhibition’s theme. Actress Emma Watson arrived in a sleek gown by Calvin Klein, who also dressed fellow attendees Margot Robbie and Lupita Nyong’o. Deceivingly simple, Watson later revealed on social media of the gowns’ sustainability, made possible by a collaboration between Calvin Klein and environmental consultant Eco Age. Embracing the technological possibilities in fashion, her dress was created entirely from yarns derived from recycled plastic bottles.
Model Karolina Kurkova took a different approach to the marriage between technology and fashion, looking to Marchesa and IBM. While the Marchesa team created an exquisite dress layered in fabric flowers, it was IBM that brought the fun. Driven by IBM’s cognitive technology, LED lights in the flowers would glow and change colour based on the reactions of users on social media following the events of the evening.
However, actress Claire Danes stole the evening, or rather illuminated it, as she was walked in by the side of designer Zac Posen in his magical creation. Teasing on Instagram earlier, Posen revealed a dress that glittered in the dark, made possible by the weaving of fibre optics into the organza fabric, letting Danes waltz into the gala in a glittering silhouette, complete with flattering Cinderella comparisons. Nothing like a little electronic sparkle to start an evening celebrating fashion and technology.