Dress exhibition that took place in summer 2016 at Metropolitan Art Museum is one of the best examples of how contemporary art fuses cutting-edge technologies like laser cut and silicon- made feathers with old school hand -made techniques. Even a year later, the atmosphere and the concept left me impressed. In my opinion, this concept shapes the way we think about our life: not to oppose renaissance and minimalism but rather to search for points of coexistence and accommodation for both, thus creating unique and novel vision. This stunning wedding dress from Chanel that was the centerpiece of this exhibition was chosen as a great example that fuses both, technical and handmade, streams.
Here is the dress story from Metropolitan site:
This ensemble, which Lagerfeld has described as “haute couture without the couture,” exemplifies the confluence of the hand (manus) and the machine (machina). Made from scuba knit, a synthetic material, the dress is hand molded, machine sewn, and hand finished. Maison Desrues (founded 1929) hand embroidered the buttons with gold, glass, and crystals, and Atelier Montex (founded 1939) hand embroidered the medallion with glass, crystals, paillettes, anthracite cannetilles, and gold leather leaf motifs. The train of scuba knit and silk satin is machine sewn and hand finished. Lagerfeld’s hand-drawn design was digitally manipulated to give it the appearance of a randomized, pixelated baroque pattern and then realized through a complex amalgam of hand and machine techniques. Atelier Lunas (founded 1993) used a heat press to transfer the rhinestones; Atelier Anne Gelbard (founded 1997) painted the gold metallic pigment by hand; and the pearls and gemstones were hand embroidered by Cécile Henri Atelier (founded 1982).
Another amazing theme of this exhibition was the “evolution of dresses” and “birth of dress” – dress expositions where several garments were presented based on times, methods and materials they were made of. Here are few examples that are esthetically inspiring.
Continuing The Dress theme and its reflection of culture, it is critical to mention the historical aspects of dresses, which is a distinct field of human history. One of the best known fashion historian today, Russian-born Alexandre Vassilliev, collected and presented thousands of dresses continuously covering hundreds of years of European and Russian history. Some of the pearls include history of costume of Russian ballet and European Ball dress collections that cover 100 years time period! It is not possible to review the whole collection here. Further information about Vassiliev collection can be found here http://www.vassilievfoundation.com/collection/. Below is a photo from Vassiliev Art Deco exhibition made by Riikka Pennanen from http://21stcenturyflapper.com/tag/alexandre-vassiliev/.
Given the importance of these two events, one of the most challenging but intriguing possibilities would be to create a historical retrospective of technology development using dress as an example. It is extremely interesting topic. Technology develops fast but its applications timeframes vary: laser-cut medical device will undergo multiple testing and investments before it will ever see a patient. Cars and gadgets will take less time. Fashion collections, on the other hand, are the fastest to release.
Dress is an art, a leading edge of technology and a culture. So how these amazing dresses inspire us in our everyday life? The color and impression of texture, the style and most importantly, the respect towards The Dress. This is not a call to wear ballroom gowns to the professional meeting, and sure not to change your favorite jeans when creating a painting or cleaning the house. But the attitude – this what matters. The idea that mass production technology has the potential to create a timeless piece and the hope to find your personal timeless Dress.