Manus x Machina

For this year The Costume Institute’s theme is Manus and Machina – hand vs technology. How has the fashion world changed in the age of technology? What is the difference between hand crafted fashion items and machine-made?

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presents the Manus x Machina: Fashion in the age of technology exhibition until 14th of August. There are more than 170 beautiful gowns that address the difference between hand crafted materials and machine made. There are some incredible evening gowns created by Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and other famous designers. There is also a wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel with a 20-foot train. The presentation is also fantastic: details of  embroidery projected onto the domed ceiling.

The Met Gala this year presented different gowns created by high fashion designers celebrating Manus vs Machina theme. There were some cutting-edge technologies used to create the dresses and develop the theme. Men vs Machine is a big topic for debate not only in fashion but in all other industries. During Industrial Revolution millions of people were replaced my machines and lost their jobs, however the production process became more efficient. Now back to fashion..

Here are some gowns that I found remarkable, I picked three dresses that I think unraveled this theme the most.

The first dress is created by Calvin Klein for beautiful Emma Watson, this dress is a “score” for technology. It is made purely from recycled plastic bottles.

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The best hand-made dress was created by Burberry for Blake Lively. It was a beautiful pink dress with hand crafted red flowers. This dress is too elegant and delicate to be manufactured on a machine, so this is a win for hands.

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The next dress ticket both boxes: it was hand sewed but could not be created without technology. This “cinderella” gown for Claire Danes. The dress was literally glowing in the dark due to organza and fiber optics.

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The Art of Ballet

Russian Ballet is something out of this world. It is absolutely amazing. Last night I went to The Sleeping Beauty in Bolshoi Theatre and I am still under impression. 

Every detail was beautiful: costumes, decorations, movements, orchestra, hall – everything. Ballerinas looked weightless, elegant and fragile. They did not make a sound.. It is amazing how ballerinas’ movements can look so effortless considering how much hard work they put in every day. How many people were involved in production –  producers, choreographers, costume developers, lighting, sound, music and of course dancers themselves. It is a pure form of art.

It would not be so beautiful if it were not for the dancers. They dance so brilliantly due to everyday rehearsals and never ending learning process, tons of hard work through pain. Ballet is not only about choreography but also acting, it is an art of telling a story without words through movements and body language. 

Ballet is hard everywhere but Russian school is especially strict. For a ballet dancer performing on the Bolshoi’s Theatre stage is like winning a Nobel Prize every day. 

I also want to note orchestra and their attitude towards each other. I was sitting at the balcony so I had a good view on orchestra pit. Music was beautiful it goes even without saying. Pyotr Tchaikovsky is a treasure of Russian classic music. When the performance ended everyone in the orchestra shook hands of their neighbours and congratulated each other on great performance. It was very moving. 

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Truly amazing. Everything. If anyone has a chance of going to Bolshoi Theatre, make yourself a favour – do not miss it!

P.S. Photos are not great. To be honest it is not permitted to take photos but I could not resist.

Carnival in Venice

Carnival in Venice is a national celebration before Christian Lent. During a week different places in Venice offer a costume parties where everyone can put on mask and be someone else for a night. It is a must-go social event – beautiful, mysterious and elegant. When you are walking in the streets of Venice you can see masks and elements of the costumes for sale. They became a part of the Italian Identity. However, this was the first time when I saw pure art of its creation process.

On a hidden street of Venice, Campo San Rocco 3046, there is an Atelier Marega. The atelier has been around since 1300 and is famous for its hand crafted masks and consumes elements. All pieces are beautifully done, with great amount of details from numerous different materials. It was a pleasure to look how the artist was involved in colouring the masks. You can spend a lot of time looking at those stunning pieces and yet find something different and thorough.

Bolt

GRAD gallery for Russian Art and Design exhibition “The Bolt” brings us back to early 1930s’ when this experimental ballet was developed in Leningrad. Leningrad Academic Theatre of Opera premiered “The Bolt”, but due to extremely negative critics’ reviews the first performance was also the last. The ballet was forgotten for a long time, but a more modern version by Alexei Ratmanskii appeared on the stage of The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 2005. All the costumes were designed using the original 20th century sketches, created by Tatiana Bruni in the 1930s. The music was also the original – written by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. This time around the ballet was seen as a smart satiric presentation of social realism.

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The exhibition, curated by Elena Sudakova, is about how “The Bolt” was created: it includes photographs, original posters, and sketches of the costumes, as well as mannequins in crafted outfits.

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The preview of the exhibition was on 5th of December and was a very unique experience. The room was filled with visitors watching actors who were recreating characters from the ballet. The actors were not disturbed by the crowd and changed positions like human statues.

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How the walls were painted especially fascinated me. The space was visually “broken” into two: the physical room defined by corners and an illusion of a different room when looking only at the paint. This looks fresh, modern and interactive.

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I am very glad that there is a non-for-profit gallery in the centre of London where Russian culture is represented and now can be discovered.