Let me preface this blog by saying my FOMO levels on Met Gala day are near crippling. I’ve refreshed my social media feeds around 1099 times today expecting to see something new. I think I’ve seen it all… but we can’t be sure. I’m so in love with the Met Gala, that when I found out the theme for 2016 was ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology’, I did a Tom and went berserk, because I have an excuse to write about it.
The Met Gala is an annual fundraising event for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. Tickets are USD$30,000, the party and exhibit are sponsored (this year Apple is the main underwriter), and last year more than USD$12.5 million was raised. It’s the most exclusive fashion event of the year. To me, it’s the definition of #lifegoals.
The fashion industry is embracing technology, recognising its important role in innovation. Back in March, New York Fashion Week showed wearable technology a lot of love. Hermes collaborated with Apple, Public School partnered up with FitBit, and Chromat worked with Intel to produce some incredible pieces.
So naturally the Queen of fashion and chair of the event, Anna Wintour, decided on the theme ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology’, for 2016. This was an opportunity, handed on a silver platter, to fashion’s big players. Designers had plenty of time to get their act together. Right now, wearable tech hasn’t been developed far enough to unlock its potential far beyond a gimmick. But this is the Met Gala – it’s the Oscars for fashion. It’s the one night where the world’s most celebrated designers can go nuts, flaunt their incredible talent, get mega celebs to wear their designs, and be seen all over the pages of Vogue. Surely they can afford to give it a red hot crack. It is a costume party after all. However, it seems the only designer / celebrity duos standing by the theme today, was supermodel Karolina Kurkova (wearing Marchesa) and actress Claire Danes (wearing Zac Posen).
Kurkova wore a custom Marchesa dress, layered with hidden wiring and the technical elements are disguised by hand-sewn arrangements of ivory flowers. The wow factor? This dress suddenly changes colour as Kurkova struts her infinite pins up the stairs of the Met, based on real-time social media sentiment.
Marchesa teamed up with IBM’s cognitive computer, Watson, to develop the technology that allows this dress to come to colourful life. The Marchesa team explains “Watson took 150 images of our dresses from the past… pulled different emotions tied to how people have reacted to those dresses on social media, and then those reactions have created a colour palette that we’re working with on the dress,”. So the colour palette will reflect in real time, people’s tweets about the dress. This dress is ‘emotionally’ talking. Amazing. Bravo team. Follow @karolinakurkova to see it in action.
Danes’ dress had to be inspired by Cinderella. The pale blue princess gown by Zac Posen, actually lights up with fibre optics. You have to hand it to Posen. Danes’ ensemble looks like something out of a futuristic fairy-tale perhaps the Disney princess we’ll be showing our kids in 20 years from now. Props to Danes for walking around New York City with a particularly impressive train.
An honourable mention goes out to Calvin Klein’s, Francisco Costa and his muses. They all wore garments designed in collaboration with Eco Age. The dresses are made from sustainable materials including recycled plastic bottles and recycled yarn. The ensembles definitely breathe life into the famous #GreenCarpetChallenge.
I was expecting to see an onslaught of machine-made designs, showcasing new technologies like laser cutting, 3D printing, thermo shaping, and circular knitting ‘fashtech’. But today it seems most Gala goers simply went for the ‘sexy robot’ look. Shiny, shiny silver everywhere. Very Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina. Very Tin Man. Very predictable.
Kimmy K of course opted for an aluminium-hued, seemingly transformer-inspired Balmain dress. Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing also designed glowering husband Kanye’s outfit, which Kim described as a “downplayed” version of her robot ensemble. When asked about his strange blue contact lenses, Kanye grunted: “Vibes.” Classic Kanye.
My prediction is that in three years, everyone will be laughing at the dismal effort from fashion’s most celebrated, Kurkova and Danes will go down in history, and Kanye will regret the contacts. Designers should have been more daring and inventive this year, but I’m not letting that kill my Met vibes just yet.
Holly Ovenden is a Social Media Specialist at BCM