05 May 2016

Met Gala: Messy Machina

Another year, another Met event where it’s either a hit or miss for fashion – because what would the biggest event of the year be without questionable red carpet looks, right?

What the Met Gala 2016 Manus x Machina could have been (via Philips Design)
From a glance, the theme for the Met Gala’s 2016 event, Manus x Machina seemed very safe, very fun, and a step away from the mental disaster that was the China themed event that sparked debate over borderline racism and cultural appropriation. Good so far right?

Well, for one it was better than what it was last year, there was no borderline racism or cultural appropriation. There was just a lack of appreciation for designers who knew what it meant to channel technology and innovation, with many red carpet looks being neither manus nor machina. Celebrities either missed the theme memo to go for a safe or ‘whatever’ option with the one silver bangle to compensate, or completely missed the creative point of the theme and went straight for a robotic/foil-like look. The whole aim of the Met Gala was to show fashion in as an unquestionable art form, right?

Well, it was rather boring.

The predominant choices amongst celebrities for the evening seemed to be silver, metallic, sequins, sparkles, anything slightly shimmery and reflective, and more silver to meet the bare minimum for the event to reflect the manus x machina theme.
Sequins and sparkles have nothing to do with technology. Some decided to go for 2011 senior prom looks.
Lots of formal dresses made appearances with corsets and capes, with designers like Valentino and Tommy Hilfiger being favoured for night – even a Marchesa gown was present. Balmain was obviously no stranger to the cameras, as a justification that sequins were considered very technological advanced. (I don’t know, don’t ask.) 

It was odd, how in comparison to last year’s event where every single (white) celebrity went out of their way to somehow appropriate the hell out of a culture (without using any braincells apparently), that they can’t seem to do the same for this theme that is so much easier and more creative, instead opting for what seemed to be just another boring red carpet event to quite literally embody the phrase ‘money doesn’t equal style’. It’s risky yes, to take a step into the more technological realm especially in fashion – but isn’t it fashionable to be outrageously different? Though, a shoutout to Zayn and his custom Versace metal arm – very Fullmetal Alchemist isn't it? And an outstanding ovation though must go to Claire Danes and her Cinderella Zac Posen piece that was probably the highlight of the Gala – a wonderful homage to the age of technology with a light-up gown in the dark.

Zayn/Gigi + Claire Danes. Yes they deserve two pictures each
Technically (punny), nothing was really wrong with the event in a sense that there should be a big debate over it because pulling the theme out of context, many who attended generally looked good – with a few looking lacklustre, but overall pretty good. So why am I complaining? My bother is that in an annual event where technology has been put as the theme, so many celebrities with their influence and money fail to see how they, aside from looking good, can help to benefit the namesake of a handful of very well known and loved designers who are in the forefront of technological designs.

So many designers have now turned to smart textiles for sustainable development and production of their collections and yet the chosen outfits for the Gala were so mediocre, uninspiring and barely stepping out of the box.

When thinking of creative designers that go beyond boundaries for their collections – Hussein Chalayan comes to mind as a synonym for technology and innovation. A designer who has been around since the early 90’s, creating collections incorporate elements of urban interiors, architecture, geometric structures and technology. His transformer dresses are just some of his best-known pieces, which have had critical acclaim beyond the fashion industry alone. Sharing images is not enough, here are videos: 

Issey Miyake is another designer that has regularly uses technological innovation to drive their collections, with Miyamae Yoshiyuki, creative director, stating that ‘technology has been hugely influential on the fashion industry all across the world’. During S/S 2015, Miyamae incorporated a new creation of fabric called 3D stretch seam that allowed for the usage of steam to turn flat pieces of fabric into 3D dimensional patterns in a sense of architectural design and sustainability, resembling origami. Following that collection, Miyamae himself stated that he wants to keep the position of Issey Miyake in the fashion industry as innovative as possible by ‘wanting to tell everyone that we take importance in being innovative with technology and coming up with new ideas from it.’

Issey Miyake S/S 2015 using '3D Stretch Seam'
Iris van Herpen is another name in the handful of designers who could have been, but were missed out on. This Dutch haute couturierist has always been ahead of her time since her debut in 2007 – from 3D scanning, digitally fabricating garments to even developing the creation of magnets to form structures of dresses. If you want to know how far Herpen has gone since her debut, just know that with her latest collection for F/W 15-16, dubbed Hacking Infinity, she has gone to great lengths to combine fashion, technology and science in the name of innovation by using such materials as hand-burnished, translucent meta-weave of stainless steel and silk. 

Iris van Herpen S/S 2015 'MAGNETIC MOTION'
Iris van Herpen F/W 15-16 'HACKING INFINITY'
Anyone attending the Gala could have considered wearing a piece from any of these designers, as well as a handful of other designers who should be accredited for their creativity and boundary breaking skills. Not only would it be a way to promote the future of fashion with technology in the name of sustainability and innovation, but also to create greater brand awareness for these name who seem to be stacked under the weight of more mainstream and popular designers. As Miyamae states, the focus on fashion and technology as a creative art form instead of consumerism is important in the name of freedom, creativity, sustainability and experimentation. It’ll also provide a basis for even more advanced designs in the future. 

Isn't this is what manus x machina is all about?
Not this. 
*Although I do want to give props to Taylor Swift for trying to do a Blader Runner but ending up with a Jenny Humphrey from GG look, I have a love-hate relationship with it lmao.

Thought I was done? Barely, here's another set of disappointing looks where celebrities missed the ENTIRE CONCEPT.