The fashion of the future? 3D-printed Chanel & laser-cut Louis Vuitton

By Kitty Knowles 11 May 2016

Reasons to get down to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

Traditionally, high-end haute couture brands like Chanel or Louis Vuitton have gained acclaim for their carefully crafted handmade garments.

Machine-made items could be fashionable, yes, but they were seen as practical pieces, that were inherently less creative.

No more.

This month New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute launched Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technologywhich showcases just how much these lines have blurred.

With over 170 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear from the likes of Balenciaga, Valentino, Christian Dior, and Prada, this explores fashion’s love affair with technology from the early 1900s to the present.

While invention of the sewing machine is celebrated, so is 3D-printing, computer modelling, laser cutting, and ultrasonic welding. (We’d expect no less from an exhibition supported by Apple).

“Fashion and technology are inextricably connected, more so now than ever before,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met.

“It is therefore timely to examine the roles that the handmade and the machine-made have played in the creative process. This exhibition proposes a new view in which the hand and the machine, often presented as oppositional, are mutual and equal protagonists.”

See a sneak-peek of some of our favourite high-tech designs…

3D-printed Chanel suits.
3D-printed Chanel suits.

3D-printed Chanel suits

Founded in 1913, these smart Chanel suites by designer Karl Lagerfeld are a modern interpretation of the brand’s classic cut, and each has been 3D-printed, with additional work added by hand.

The far left is hand-painted, and hand-embroidered with braided white, blue, and gold wool, silk; the central ensemble features hand-stitched clear crystals, while the right is adorned by hand-stitched black pearls, and beads, and clear crystals.

Another 3D-printed design comes from Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen (above, right).

Known for her striking modern shapes, she has collaborated with everyone from Björk to Beyoncé.

Van Herpen’s impressive architectural haute couture of Manus x Machina is printed with white polyamide, and paired with a skirt made from white goat leather with acrylic fringing.

Laser-cut couture

Marc Jacobs’ blue Louis Vuitton dress (above, left) may contrast in terms of style, but is similarly high-tech. This features precision laser-cut plastic flowers hand-embroidered with clear crystals and silver metal studs.

Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton will also showcase his laser-cut masterpieces including three tulip-bottomed dresses (right), which feature a combination of hand-appliquéd overlay and laser-cut metallic strips.

Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, is open until 14 August, at The Met Museum’s Robert Lehman Wing, New York.