In yesterday's post we looked at key architectural principles as inspiration for art installations and fashion projects. In the last few years there have actually been quite a few collaborations between architects and fashion designers that introduced something completely new and previously unseen on the runways.
In previous posts we looked for example at the way Iris Van Herpen launched an architect-couture dialogue with Canadian architect Philip Beesley that developed a cross-cultural approach resulting in the creation of experimental shapes and silhouettes and hybrid fabrics suspended between high fashion and ready-to-wear.
Van Herpen and Beesley worked together on the designer's "Magnetic Motion" (S/S 2015), "Wilderness Embodied" (A/W 2013-14) and "Voltage" (S/S 2013) collections. Their combined efforts also reappeared on Van Herpen's A/W 2015-16 runway, that featured two dresses and one top characterised by a meshwork textile.
The latter was based on the concept of terraforming and the creation of synthetic terrains, including new planetary surfaces. The pieces were made by thermally forming laser-cut acrylic sheets to create lightweight, foam-like meshworks, combined with other materials such as polyurethane, silicones, leather, and crystals.
The resulting acrylic membranes were transformed into malleable geometries of chevrons and meshwork textiles through processes of three-dimensional fused deposition printing, injection molding, vacuum forming and laser-cutting that guaranteed the material flexibility and dynamism.
The concept of terraforming - that is transforming a landscape on another planet into one having the characteristics of landscapes on Earth - points back to Beesley's studies on geotextiles, materials that integrate into the landscapes creating an intermeshing of natural and technological.
The resulting material in the A/W 2015-16 collection ("Hacking Infinity") seems to look at the possibility of creating new geologies in fabrics with the black latticework of the dresses and top growing into a fertile matrix or an architectural textile.
People interested in discovering how certain fabrics from these collections have been developed should check out the exhibition "Iris Van Herpen: Transforming Fashion" at Atlanta's High Museum of Art (until 15th May 2016).
The event, developed in collaboration with The Netherlands' Groninger Museum that launched three years ago the first exhibition focused on Van Herpen's designs, features three pieces from each of the 15 Haute Couture collections by Van Herpen, arranged chronologically.
There is plenty to see from a piece made using ribs of children's umbrellas and industrial boat filament yarns to 3D printed garments inspired by fractals and created using stereolithography; from pieces made by laser sintering a rubber-like material, called thermoplastic polyurethane 92A-1, to an iron-filled polyurethane resin that can be manipulated by magnets, developed in collaboration with Dutch artist Jólan van der Wiel.
One gallery at the end of the exhibition features fabric samples from many of the pieces shown, which the designer and her team remade especially for the Atlanta events.
Visitors interested in discovering further new materials will be able to do so at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute's exhibition "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" (5th May - 14th August 2016) that will explore the concepts of hand-made and machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.
Presented in the Museum's Robert Lehman Wing and Anna Wintour Costume Center with the support of Apple and organised by Andrew Bolton, Curator of The Costume Institute, in collaboration with Shohei Shigematsu, Director of OMA New York, the exhibition will feature over 100 designs going from an 1880s Worth gown to a 2015 Chanel suit (made in a futuristic material evoking the body texture of Ava, the android out of Alex Garland's dystopian sci-fi film Ex Machina) passing through Mariano Fortuny, Adrian, Azzedine Alaïa, Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Issey Miyake, Hussein Chalayan, threeASFOUR, Junya Watanabe, Iris Van Herpen and many more.
"Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the hand-made and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other," Andrew Bolton, stated in an official press release. "Manus x Machina will challenge the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy, and propose a new paradigm germane to our age of digital technology."
The impact of technology on fashion will therefore be analysed by juxtaposing the traditional couture atelier and embroidery, feathers, pleating, knitting, lacework, leatherwork, braiding, and fringe work workshops with the power of industrialization and mass production.
Cutting edge techniques such as 3D printing, laser cutting, thermo shaping, computer modeling, circular knitting, ultrasonic welding, and bonding and laminating will then be explored. During the course of the exhibition visitors will also be able to witness 3D-printed garments taking shape thanks to a series of "in process" workshops.
Jonathan Ive, Apple's Chief Design Officer, stated in the press release for the event, "Both the automated and handcrafted process require similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise. There are instances where technology is optimized, but, ultimately, it's the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it's machine-made or hand-made, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary."
The unlikely marriage between fashion and technology seems therefore destined to last and you can bet that the hand-made and machine-made processes will become the protagonists of a utopian - or dystopian (who knows...) - fashion future. We can only hope that specific events such as the "Manus x Machina" exhibition will also look at clever architectural implementations of technotextiles in a human key that will combine the Apollonian and Dionysian principles, reconciling and rebalancing reason and logical thinking with emotions and instincts.
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