Claire Danes dressed in a stunning, light-up ball gown looking like Cinderella; Karolina Kurkova showing up in a dress covered in fabric flowers with LEDs that lit up as users on social media responded to the Met Gala; Beyoncé wearing a latex dress embellished with pearls that are rumored to cost around $8,000 each. These were some of the most common topics of the New York Met Gala held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this year. The theme, Manus x Machina, explored how fashion designers are bringing the handmade and the machine-made together in fashion.
Taylor Swift, also one of the event co-chairs, landed the cover of Vogue magazine’s special 2016 Met Gala edition.She rocked a Louis Vuitton dress, boots, and clutch, Mattia Cielo earrings, an Eva Fehren ear cuff and rings, and a Borgioni white diamond ring.
The Met Gala brought many questions to surface, such as if 3D printing could be the future of fashion. Claire Danes’ Cinderella inspired organza gown had ultra thin fiber-optics woven into it, Lady Gaga, stunned everyone with a Versace micro-chip jacket which was made with laser cutting technology, and Allison Williams wore a one-shouldered gown designed by Peter Pilotto, which was embellished with a number of 3D printed flowers.
Curator in charge of the Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton explains, “Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other. Manus x Machina challenges the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy and proposes a new paradigm germane to our age of technology.”
The exhibit demonstrates how 3D printing is effective in revolutionizing the fashion industry, offering new ways of creating new materials and unthinkable designs. One of the main arguments against using technology is that it takes away some of the personal touches and handcrafted care, but from our current fast-fashion system, in which poorly paid workers are slaving away to make our clothing, the idea of the hand being pure and unique is complicated.
So back to the question, is 3D printing the future of fashion? Considering how technology is continuously opening new doors for designers and innovators to explore new materials, structures, and designs, it is highly possible to imagine additive manufacturing becoming just as revolutionary as the sewing machine once was for the fashion industry.