The Met Gala and Manus x Machina Exhibit

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You might have heard that the Met Gala happened earlier this month (the first Monday in May!). The theme for this year’s gala, and the corresponding Costume Institute exhibit, was “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” Several celebrities and designers went all out with the tech side of the theme and created couture gowns with embedded wearable technology. I wanted to take a closer look at some of the tech used in creating these gowns.


Claire Danes wearing Zac Posen

The first dress was the eye-catching fiber optic dress designed by Zac Posen and worn by actress Claire Danes. There doesn’t appear to be a controller in the dress, and the internet was sparse on construction details. I did find out that the dress is made from fiber optic woven organza (custom made by an unnamed company in France) and required 30 battery packs. I am interested to know more details about the fiber optic used and the integration into the organza fabric. The gown looks spectacular in the dark images taken (from Zac Posen’s Instagram).



Karolina Kurkova in Marchesa

Karolina Kurkova wore a gown designed by the IBM Watson Inno360 team and fashion house Marchesa to the Met Gala. 



More details about the tech used are available for this dress. From the Instagram picture above you can clearly see a Particle Photon development board. The Photon is a WiFi connected board which communicated with Watson’s Tone Analyzer API to change the LED colors based on the social media reactions. IBM’s Twitter account showed a close up of the LEDs – in the image below you can see some Adafruit Flora controllers and NeoPixel LED rings.



While neither dress was on the cutting edge of wearable technology, I still found it interesting to see a more fashionable interpretation of tech and the boards and materials that were used.


The Manus x Machina exhibit opened to the public last Thursday and runs through August 14th. Are you planning on checking it out? I will probably make a trip to the Met next week to see it.


Sources: Met Museum, Marchesa’s Instagram, IBM’s Twitter, IBM’s blog

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