Manus x Machina (Hand x Machine) Exhibit at The Met Museum

Historically, traditionally, in both haute couture and prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) fashion design and production, there was a dichotomy of two methods; a clear division between fashion made manually, by hand (manus) and that which was machine-made (machina).

Today, just ten years after the term “fashion-tech” was coined, the lines between handmade and machine-made have become blurred. A blending and collaboration between hand and machine methods is under way, like never before, which will continue to evolve as technology advances, bringing new methods, materials and possibilities. The current, modern collaboration of hand and machine has its roots in the industrial age, leading to new materials and methods of production used in the early 1900’s, accelerating over the last 100 years as availability of new methods/materials and technologies increased, especially in the past decade.

To explore and celebrate the history, as well as the combined, possible future of both handmade and machine-made fashions, costumes, and couture, THE MET (a.k.a.: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City) put together a spectacular exhibit: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology — launched with a glittering, star-studded gala/opening event — showcasing classic and modern couture elements, made by hand, by machine, and both together. The exhibit was of past-present-future fashion, art, and science; celebrating vision, experimentation, new materials, new methods, new technologies, while also acknowledging and retracing the past, through to a future now being imagined by great (known and unknown) fashion designers. The exhibit closed on September 5, 2016, and we were lucky enough to catch it on the last day…


Manus x Machina?

Manus x Machina: the logo in lights / Fashion FAFA SolutionsWe know manus means “hand” and machina means “machine” but what of the “x” in the middle? After reading many articles (see partial list below, with links) about this exhibit, including of course THE MET’s own webpage for Manus x Machina, and finally viewing the exhibit for ourselves, it seems the “x” could have several possible meanings:

  • Transition – the moving forward, beyond, from an old reality to a new one…
  • Intersection – the point of connection between two formerly separate things, a crossroads, an inflection point…
  • Collaboration – the combination, pairing, joining, of two methods working together as one…
  • Multiplication – the rapid addition, exponential growth of possibilities for the future…

Perhaps you can imagine other meanings for the lowercase “x” in the exhibit’s name, especially if you were lucky enough to see the exhibit yourself . It was fantastic, inspiring, fun, fabulous and provocative! But we are not the experts, so here are links to a few of the articles and posts we found about the Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit, with more in-depth information, reviews, and commentary, from those who know more than we do:

  1. Exhibit Page on THE MET’s (Metropolitan Museum of Art’s) website
  2. Business of Fashion (BOF) Article
  3. WWD (Women’s Wear Daily) weighs in on Manus x Machina
  4. Vogue’s post, when the exhibit was extended…
  5. On fashion-entertainment-lifestyle blog:
  6. Business commentary on

Here is a gallery of images from the Manus x Machina exhibit at THE MET focusing on more modern styles, designs, methods and/or materials [click any image to open slideshow:

Here is a gallery of images from Manus x Machina, focusing on more classic styles, traditional designs, methods and materials:

And here is gallery of images of some words, signs, texts, and books from the Manus x Machina exhibit:

Who are we?  We work in the fashion industry on the technology side, with deep interest in both its past — beginnings, roots, sources, history, traditions — and its future. “The Fashion Matrix” is the name and domain we use to identify the software and technology solutions for fashion, apparel, footwear & accessories (a.k.a. “FAFA”), available from Randomatrix, which currently include: ERP, Mobile & e-Commerce, and POS, Omni-Channel, Mobile, Clienteling and ERP-integration.

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