The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute kicked off its annual exhibition with the Met Gala last night, fashion's most glamorous party of the year. For this year's show, Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, OMA New York, led by Shohei Shigematsu, worked with the museum's design department to create "ghost cathedrals" to showcase some of haute couture and ready-to-wear's most exquisite pieces that marry handmade and machine-made techniques.
While they had the grand space of the Robert Lehman Wing to work with, there wasn't any real exhibition space, so they created their own. Using layers of white screen-like fabrics, OMA transformed the atrium and hallway into a series of ethereal and minimal structures.
Shohei Shigematsu explained how each mini-space was divided at the exhibition preview: "Each wing has a theme of techniques — like beading, embroidery, and feather-work."
Exhibit-goers will find pockets devoted to the trades of beading, embroidery, and featherwork on the first floor, while the ground floor highlights pleating, leatherwork, and lacework. Presented in contrast to these more traditional techniques are rooms that showcase modern technologies including 3D-printing and laser cutting.
The firm also took a minimalist approach to the use of media. Shigematsu continued: "We were quite worried about the current trend of fashion exhibitions that rely on a lot of flat screens, and screens that are added afterwards. Our media is only four points of projections, each highly integrated."
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a 2014 haute couture wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel that holds court in an airy atrium. Its 20-foot train has been painstakingly embroidered, the details of which are projected onto a domed ceiling.
In addition to this gorgeous gown are over 170 garments that will be on display starting Thursday, May 5th. Manus x Machina runs until August 14th.