Uncategorized, visual art

Manus, Machina, Matrimonium

In the statement issued by Conde Nast, the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Manus x Machina “exhibition showcases the traditionally opposing roles of hand and machine in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear and explores the unification of the two through the evolution of technology.” When entering within the cathedral setting, and considering the heavy-handed selection of couture wedding gowns in this exhibition, you almost feel as if there is a rushed marriage occurring between Apple and Conde Nast.

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Exhibition entryway, House of Chanel (French, founded 1913) Karl Lagerfeld (French, born Hamburg, 1938) Wedding Ensemble Autumn/winter 2014-15, haute couture Courtesy of CHANEL Patrimoine Collection. 

The stunner, pictured above, when observed in profile: an extra-long train balances the proportions of what can only be described as Rotund silhouette.  Hushed whispers at the first viewing of this exhibition were wondering, was the bride expecting?

What I have to wonder is, how is there an entire wing of the museum dedicated to fashion and its history, yet in the United States we still cannot acknowledge that the works of these designers should be protected as their own highly valuable intellectual property?

Roman Historian Sondra Rapoport’s response to viewing the exhibition was that it “brought to light the complete circle that is the relationship between fashion and history. Long has fashion been an essential piece of the power of imagery. Use of color, quality of materials, level of detail has long been an indicator of power and prestige.”

pleated-gowns

Mary McFadden (American, born 1938) Dresses 1908-1987 “Marii” machine-pleated, hand-stitched with hand-embroidered panels of polychrome sequins.

Rapoport says of the above pictured Mary McFadden dresses, “I was particularly interested to see fashion embracing both the past and the future. I saw dresses designed to resemble 12th century court wear.  Created using modern materials and methods, but keeping the traditional styling and therefore its connection to its history and its former significance.”

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House of CHANEL (French, founded 1913) Karl Lagerfeld (French, born Hamburg, 1938) Wedding Ensemble. Autumn/winter 2005-6, haute couture Courtesy of CHANEL Patrimonies Collection.

Powerful as the the clothing exhibited may be, who has the ultimate upper hand in the overarching relationship? Why does a would-be blushing bride have tears in her eyes? Apple’s sponsorship statement says “Ultimately, it is the amount of care invested in the craftsmanship, whether machine-made or hand-made, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary.”  That sounds nice; however, I would like to add that if technology continues to overpower creatives by disseminating the designers’ work without any legal recourse, together we are witnessing in real life, how, what could have been a lasting marriage ends tragically.

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