Metropolitan Museum of Art: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology

Posted on May 17, 2016, 9:12 am
3 mins


In case you need a reason to visit the Big Apple some time soon, the latest exhibition at The Met in NYC will inspire you to book your next fashion field trip right now. The Costume Institute‘s Spring 2016 Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, kicked off last week with the much celebrated Met Gala. Through their red carpet looks, the guests of the Gala interpreted the show’s study of designers using handmade and machine-made methods in creating haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.

The exhibit is a highlight for fashion and history lovers, with more than 170 ensembles. The earliest pieces date from the invention of the sewing machine and mass production in the 19th century, which was also the beginning of haute couture in Paris with the House of Worth. The show studies the evolution of fashion created by hand (“manus”) and by machine (“machina”), the distinguished relationship and the division of the two approaches, and how they affect the creative process.

The museum presents the layers of work in a series of rooms based on traditional métiers of the haute couture, including embroidery, featherwork, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework and leatherwork. The modern approaches to design, including 3D printing, computer modeling, bonding and laminating, laser cutting and ultrasonic welding are shown alongside. It is a thought provoking exhibit at a time when many of the traditional métiers and their vast knowledge are facing extinction.

Issey Miyake Bao Bao Prism Aurora Tote - The Met Store

Issey Miyake Bao Bao Prism Aurora Tote – The Met Store

The annual costume exhibits at the Met always receive record-breaking crowds, and this year the institution has made a perfect partnership to sweeten the ending. Vogue’s Anna Wintour played matchmaker between the museum’s Met Store and Nordstrom’s Creative Director and all around cool girl Olivia Kim, who has curated items that match the exhibition itself. Kim’s edit of goods are of a high/low nature, including a bookmark shaped after Mason Martin Margiela’s iconic, cloven Tabi boot, Issey Miyake’s architectural handbags, and Brooklyn-based Cirque Colors exclusive nail lacquer collections based on the exhibit theme. While no trip to the museum is complete without a spin through the gift shop, leave it to Kim to make certain you leave the Met’s fashion exhibit with the perfect reminder of an excellent exhibit.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute spring 2016 exhibition, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, May 5 through August 14, 2016. 

Images courtesy of Vogue. 

Lisa Cole is the fashion and style writer for Vanguard Seattle, and her work includes covering fashion news and events, runway shows and boutiques. She has her own fashion and lifestyle blog,, and is a member of Independent Fashion Bloggers and Fashion Group International.