Haute couture and machines have been awkwardly crossing paths for decades, counterintuitively enabling and disabling in parallel. The sewing machine is possibly the most well known of the machines to enter the fashion sector, however it still does not lend itself well to the essence of haute couture. In a spectacle of alignment, the 2016 Met Gala has presented an intertwining of machine, technology, and beauty.
It is this seemingly unexplored relationship between craft (manus) and machines (machina) that pushed many of the world’s leading designers to set new challenges and embrace cutting edge technologies for the Met Gala’s 2016 edition. Peter Pilotto turned to 3D printing and to Cinter to create the gown worn by Allison Williams, well known for her role in the HBO series Girls. Unbeknownst to the classical fashion design house, the advantages and disadvantages with machines don’t end at the selvedge. The nascent technology of 3D printing, much like a rebellious teenager, requires careful guidance to achieve the intended look and feel of a crafted object. Working closely with Peter Pilotto, the London based design consultancy utilised their already honed 3D printing skills to translate the fluid forms of textiles into delicate detailing.
Additive manufacturing (3D printing) has matured to the point that it can be woven into the larger fabric of haute couture and high fashion. The invention of the weaving machine freed seamstresses to focus more intently on the neatness of a seam and the shape of a cut. In creating the dress for Allison Williams, 3D printing similarly allowed Cinter and Peter Pilotto to rapidly iterate and directly prototype to create the ideal form before the appliqués were painstakingly embroidered onto the dress by hand.
Too often the intersection between fashion and tech appears futuristic. Early adopters of additive manufacturing (Francis Bitonti, 2010; Iris van Herpen, 2010; Alexander McQueen, 2010) focused deeply on the technology, producing inflexible pieces that were fully 3D printed and devoid of the craft of haute couture. Peter Pilotto’s vision of womenswear is to establish perspectives on elegance from both the new and the old—
cyborg-worthy fashion wasn’t an option. The success of the soft sculptural 3D printed shapes came from the ultimate collaboration of two creative machines. Cinter hope that this exhibition will highlight the necessity for a healthy dialogue between creativity, craftsmanship, coding, manufacturing, and computer aided design.
ManusxMachina: seaming the digital and the analogue.