Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, the lauded 2016 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, focuses on fashion’s relationship with technology. The show displays a fascinating range of couture that dates from the early 20th century to present, using garments to demonstrate the many techniques available to designers, including 3-D printing and lasers. Old-fashioned handwork is in evidence as well: you’ll see items extravagantly embellished with feathers, lace and even drinking straws. Among the 170 or so stylish ensembles are samples by Coco Chanel, Issey Miyake and Nicolas Ghesquière. See our five favorites, and then visit the Costume Institute to judge everything for yourself.
Designer: Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel (2014–15)
Details to note: Lagerfeld himself drew the pattern on this wedding dress’ dramatic 20-foot train. The end result features digital manipulation of the print, which was then hand-painted with gold pigment and embroidered with pearls and other precious stones.
Designer: Gareth Pugh (2015)
Details to note: The goth-y British designer tends to work with unorthodox materials. This dress, for instance, is made with plastic drinking straws, each cut and attached individually to the garment.
Designer: Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen (2012)
Details to note: Covered in shells and coral, this dress represents both hand-sewn and machine-made techniques.
Designer: Iris van Herpen (2013–14)
Details to note: This feathery dress is laser cut and features actual bird skulls that have been coated in silicone and attached to a cotton base.
Designers: Threeasfour (left, 2016); Proenza Schouler (right, 2013)
Details to note: These intricately patterned ivory dresses exemplify machine-sewn, 3-D-printed lacework.