• Melissa Imari Alvarez

Manus x Machina

Claire Danes was the brightest star the night of the Met Gala.

This year's Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will explore fashion in the age of technology. Manus x Machina, the name of this year's exhibit and theme to the highly anticipated annual gala which took place last week, can loosely be translated to "hand with machine". There is no denying that there were many gorgeous and interesting looks that night, but I was a little disappointed with the lack of inspiration. A theme incorporates technology and everyone thinks, "Ooh, shiny"! But in a sea of metallics, sparkles, and grandeur I believe these celebrities and their designers most accurately portrayed Manus x Machina in their looks...

From @zacposen Instagram. "Up Close details of the #clairedanes #metgala #zacposen technology #gown !"

Claire Danes and Zac Posen. She looks like a princess- a classic silhouette, elegant, beautifully fit strapless sweetheart bodice, gorgeous full length skirt, fresh faced, simple updo. I would have loved her look just based on those qualities but then you tell me her dress lights up?! This is the stuff of fairytales! But this ball-worthy gown was made by no fairy godmother. Instead 6 people worked meticulously and delicately–over the course of about 600 combined hours– to bring Zac Posen's design to life! The gown was made of a custom Gossamer fabric, sourced in France, with LED lights (and corresponding mini battery packs) sewn into the lining, with raw-edged hem finishing. Claire wore an under structure to give the dress it's voluminous shape. In discussing the design process, Posen explained, ‘I’m interested in that place, where the past and the future meet, because that’s universal and that hits a chord around the world…just recognizing beauty and a magic moment between fantasy and technology.’

Karolina Kurkova in the Cognitive Dress.

Karolína Kurková and Marchesa/IBM. Another ethereal ensemble, the Cognitive Dress is as much fantastical as it is sci-fi. A partnership between British design studio Marchesa and IBM's cognitive computer Watson, this white tulle gown features a multitude of stunning embroidered flowers with 150 LED lights. The design team picked a series of emotions- joy, patience, excitement, encouragement, and curiosity. Watson, in turn, gave the designers a range of colors to choose from to correspond with each of these emotions. Throughout the night, the LED lit up in accordance with fans' reactions to the gown on social media. This partnership between man and machine opens up a new world of opportunities in the fashion industry.

Emma Watson wearing the most beautiful trash you will ever see!

Emma Watson and Calvin Klein. Emma, as per usual, looked absolutely stunning on the red carpet this night. Wearing a 5-piece ensemble, including trousers AND an overskirt with train,

she looked liked a badass heroine to a science fiction movie (this is definitely meant as a compliment)! The design, all black except for the white bustier, managed to be structured, but not too hard, and elegant all at once. The most impressive aspect- all fabrics for the body of the gown were woven with fibers made from recycled plastic bottles! Emma shared on her Instagram that "each and every part of this beautiful gown has been produced with sustainability in mind." The zippers were made from recycled materials and the inner bustier from organic cotton. Even the silk lining was organic. "Being able to repurpose this waste and incorporate it into my gown for the‪#‎MetGala‬ proves the power that creativity, technology and fashion can have by working together."

Kendall Jenner in Atelier Versace.

Kendall Jenner and Atelier Versace. Though more subtle than other ensembles that night, Kendall Jenner stunned the red carpet with her slinky high collar cutout dress from Atelier Versace. While the bottom half of the dress has flesh-toned mesh in the seemingly empty tiles of its mosaic pattern, the top half shows a little more skin in what appears to be intricate laser cut windows. Production of such a delicate piece could, no doubt, have only come from the precision of hand-sewn couture. The Met museum even took to Twitter (@metmuseum) to say "@KendallJenner's #MetGala dress shows how the handmade and the machine-made is perfectly combined."

Zayn Malik armored in Versace.

Zayn Malik and Versace. I had mentioned earlier that Manus x Machina could be loosely translated as "hand with machine". With that in

mind, Zayn's gala outfit translated that quite literally. His Versace ensemble, complete with metallic armored sleeve covers, was sharp and well tailored. He actually had hands with machines! Despite the onslaught of memes that have been made since he debuted this outfit, I think his look was bold and executed very well. The power of menswear is severely underrated and you hardly hear reporters asking male celebrities on the red carpet who they're wearing. Versace wanted to make a statement with this piece and I think they chose the perfect representative.

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