Bolton also gave equal importance to historically significant designs such as an example of a Dior New Look skirt suit from 1949 or a group of Fortuny tea dresses from the Camping smoke follows pretty people shirt Apart from…,I will love this beginning of the twentieth century and the work of contemporary designers such as Iris Van Herpen and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler. This show used temporal and material juxtapositioning as its prime method in displaying the interactions between technique (hand and/or machine), process (when final design interacts with construction processes), and historical derivatives (early couture garments and more recent pieces inspired by the former but enhanced with the digital and machine-made characteristics more frequently used by contemporary designers). One of the most successful aspects of this show was how it was organized by the numerous métiers found within the couture guilds of old (and still exist in a more corporatized form today): Tailleur et Flou (tailoring, suiting, structured garments, and dressmaking/draping), Maroquinerie (leather), Plisse (pleating), Broderie (embroidery), Plumasserie (featherwork), Parurier Florale (artificial flowers), Toiles (patterns), Dentellerie (lacework). The juxtaposed historic couture garments with the work of more current designers successfully demonstrates the historic continuum that is the thesis of the show: that technology—whether that of the hand or the machine—is in constant interplay in the realm of design and construction.
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As a fashion and textile historian, I’m very much absorbed by the Camping smoke follows pretty people shirt Apart from…,I will love this narrative of fashion’s shift from a couture-based industry in France towards prêt-à-porter in the late 1960s. My own graduate research focused on the period of the 1960s and 1970s in France, and how an institutionalized industry such as the French couture tradition adapted and interacted with the massive shift from couture to ready-to-wear. What made Manus x Machina so important was its ability to break down common misconceptions within the canon of fashion history. As the exhibition theme and catalogue attest, the historical hierarchy between handmade custom garments (couture) and machine-made sportswear (prêt-à-porter) has been consistently portrayed as the former being far superior. The myth that what makes couture unique is its craftsmanship and total reliance on artisanal production is chipped away at by this show. Examples such as the case study Chanel Couture gown, along with other prêt-à-porter garments that were hand-finished, demonstrate that modernization of design and originality in couture is necessarily implicated with the digital i.e. the machine-made world and vice-versa.