New York, New York: It’s hard to upstage a dress made from plastic drinking straws or a bridal bikini composed of strategically placed roses—two of the more far-fetched creations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Costume Institute exhibition, “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology.”
Yet somehow, the ladies who walked the red carpet at the Met’s Costume Institute Gala managed it.
Kim Kardashian’s metallic ensemble drew comparisons to Star Wars’ C3PO. Taylor Swift was mocked for rocking up in a cocktail dress that looked like a swath of aluminum foil, and social media mavens suggested that Beyonce’s figure-hugging, flesh-colored latex gown was actually the skin of her husband’s alleged mistress. WHOA.
Now that the stars have receded back into the heavens, it’s time to take a closer look at the equally outrageous outfits actually on display through August 14. “Manus x Machina,” which showcases more than 170 designs, examines how innovations like 3-D printing, computer modeling and ultrasonic welding (whatever that is) are blurring the lines between haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear styles.
Want to see what else is a la mode in Manhattan? Here are the top ten ogle-worthy fashions I spotted at the Met during my recent visit.
Scariest Skeleton in the Closet
What do you get when you peel away Beyonce’s “skin suit?” Possibly this skeleton tutu, a 3-D fantasy by Dutch born designer Iris van Herpen.
Most Fashion Forward (and Reverse, Presumably)
You don’t exactly wear Hussein Chalayan’s “Kaikoku” Floating Dress. You drive it.
The designer breaks it down for us. “The wearer enters the dress (which is made of gold-painted cast fiberglass) through a rear-access panel,” he explains, “and the entire garment, which is on wheels, is operated via remote control.”
Hmmm. Could it be just the ticket for an eye-catching entrance, or is this a prime candidate for a catwalk costume malfunction? We’ll let the fashion police decide.
Most Creative Solution to a Bad Hair Day
You won’t need a hairdresser, or make-up for that matter, when you shimmy into this gimp gown of nude lace and black patent leather by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Perfect for movie stars who want to maintain their anonymity when they’re papped tumbling out of taxis without their undergarments.
Easiest to Pack
Issey Miyake’s “Flying Saucer” dress, composed of pleated polychrome polyester, collapses like an accordion to comfortably fit in your carry-on. If you have an irrational fear of Jack-in-the-Boxes, however, this may not be the dress for you.
Best Use of Bird Skulls
Okay, so this may be the only dress that incorporates gull skulls, but Iris van Herpen’s pink feathered frock is definitely a doozy.
Best Interpretation of a Fashion Victim
Hussein Chalayan’s molded polyurethane foam dress isn’t so much an accident waiting to happen as his vision of an accident unfolding before our eyes. According to Hussein, the racy number on the right is meant to evoke “the cause and effect of a crash in one moment.”
The biggest danger I foresee, however, is trying to sit in it.
Sexiest Space Alien
Captain Kirk couldn’t have resisted a vixen from Venus sporting Iris van Herpen’s 3-D printed, peek-a-boo pleated top, especially paired with a fringed miniskirt designed to reveal a great pair of legs…or shapely tentacles, as the case may be.
Scuba Dooba I Do
Who wouldn’t say yes to this dress by Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel? The price tag may have you feeling a bit underwater, buy hey, no worries. It’s made of scuba knit! Of course, if you’re actually planning to take the nuptial dive by, well, taking a dive, the 30-foot glittering gold embroidered train may look a bit worse for wear after being dragged across a coral seabed.
Handiest for House Cleaning
Give the maid the day off. You’ll get the dusting done in a jiffy with a quick whirl around your 5,000-square-foot penthouse apartment in this House of Balenciaga feathered confection.
Most Fashionable Post-Gala Guest Appearance
The divas of the red carpet weren’t the only fashionistas threatening to steal the spotlight from the likes of Karl Lagerfeld. Lynx Alexander, Steinway & Sons’ “visual artist in residence,” turned heads at the Met’s members-only preview on May 3 in this flyaway tie he made himself.
“I’m never at a loss for words,” he insisted. “But this exhibition has left me speechless.”
He may have been tongue-tied, but Alexander, who designs a new tie every day, was also inspired. “I’ll probably create a new one tomorrow based on what I’ve seen here today.”
“Manus x Machina” runs through August 14 at The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028, tel: 212-535-7710, http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/manus-x-machina.