Looking Through the Met: Manus X Machina

Graphic by Ilsiia Shakirova
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Today, we will be discussing the 2016 “Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” gala, which focused on technology and encouraged attendees to explore the differences between handmade fashion and machine-made fashion. And yes, I am skipping the 2017 “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” gala. Why am I skipping 2017? Simply put, I do not like the Met Galas that focus on designers. No further comments on that. 

Starting off strong, let’s get into the outfit of one of the 2016 co-chairs — Taylor Swift. 2016 was the wonderful age of Bleachella, a term describing Swift’s bleached hair which she first showed off at Coachella approximately a month prior to the Met. In a custom scaly-patterned, metallic dress by Louis Vuitton with bold cutouts near her stomach, as well as knee-high heels, Swift truly owned the carpet. Not only was this dress on theme, but it became an iconic look and moment for Swifties everywhere. Rumor has it, the 2016 Met Gala was where Swift met her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. The lyrics of “Dress” include “Flashback when you met me, your buzzcut and my hair bleached,” and Alwyn did in fact have a buzzcut. The facts check out. 

Blake Lively’s Burberry gown was another staple of the night. She wore a baby pink gown embroidered with flowers, and though the dress was on the simpler side, Lively no doubt looked radiant like always. Her dress did also match the carpet. Continuing with another attendee who opted for a gown embroidered with flowers we have Zoey Deutch. The sheer, rose-embroidered dress created by Dolce & Gabbana was part handmade and part machine-made and featured an eye-catching jeweled heart on the chest. Deutch accessorized with a tiara and gold earrings. 

One standout from the 2016 Met was Amandla Stenberg’s suit designed by Calvin Klein. The all-red suit fit Stenberg perfectly and the bootcut style pants made them look cooler than all the rest of the guests in bland suits. With silver accessories, most notably a futuristic-esque headband, Stenberg proved they know how to execute a theme. 

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Now for some of the looks I particularly did not like. With “Manus X Machina,” it is hard to judge looks based on whether they adhere to the theme or not, as it is not always easy to tell if something is handmade or machine-made, which is why I am just going to share my personal opinion on these next looks. Emma Roberts’ purple patterned dress by Tory Burch felt out of place, while Selena Gomez’s Louis Vuitton polka dot dress and black boots looked childish. Hailee Steinfeld’s emerald green dress by H&M was simple and elegant; however, she could have done with some more accessories as the outfit was fairly plain. Similarly, while Margot Robbie’s sleek white dress with a cutout in the back by Calvin Klein was lovely and suited her perfectly, it just lacked the extravagance of a typical Met dress and looked like something a high schooler might wear to prom.

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