Top Ten Wildest Styles at The Met’s Fashion Exhibition in New York

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.”

straw dress & bride bikini

Left: Dress hand-embroidered with black drinking straws, by Gareth Pugh. Courtesy of Gareth Pugh. Right: Floral bridal bikini by Yves Saint Laurent for Saint Laurent, Courtesy of Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris. Photos © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

#metgalamemes on Instagram

#metgalamemes on Instagram

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.

3-printed white polyamide skeleton dress by Iris van Herpen. Photo credit Amy Laughinghouse.

Skeleton dress by Iris van Herpen. Photo credit Amy Laughinghouse.

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.

“Kaikoku” Floating Dress by Hussein Chalayan, autumn/winter 2011–12 prêt-à-porter. Courtesy of Swarovski. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

“Kaikoku” Floating Dress by Hussein Chalayan. Courtesy of Swarovski. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

Dress of nude silk lace, tulle, and patent leather by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Spring/summer 2012, prêt-à-porter. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse.

Dress of nude silk lace, tulle, and patent leather by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse.

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.

"Flying Saucer” Dress by Issey Miyake for Miyake Design Studio, spring/summer 1994 prêt-à-porter. Courtesy of The Miyake Issey Foundation. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

“Flying Saucer” Dress by Issey Miyake for Miyake Design Studio. Courtesy of The Miyake Issey Foundation. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

bird skulls_1863

Dress by Iris van Herpen. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

Crash dress_1911

Dress of molded polyurethane foam airbrushed with crushed automobile imagery by Hussein Chalayan. Courtesy of Hussein Chalayan. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

Ensemble by Iris van Herpen, spring/summer 2010 haute couture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

Ensemble by Iris van Herpen. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

Most Likely to Blow a Kleinfeld Bride’s Mind: Wedding ensemble by Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel, autumn/winter 2014–15 haute couture. Courtesy of CHANEL Patrimoine Collection. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

Most Likely to Blow a Kleinfeld Bride’s Mind: Wedding ensemble by Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel. Courtesy of CHANEL Patrimoine Collection. Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

feather duster_1859

Evening dress with hand-glued ostrich feathers by Cristobal Balenciaga for House of Balenciaga. Gift of Charles B. Wrightsman. © Amy Laughinghouse

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.

Lynx Alexander_1815

Visual artist Lynx Alexander in a tie of his own design, pictured at “Manus X Machina.” Photo © Amy Laughinghouse

“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.

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