Technology Advances Fashion

The Yves Saint Laurent "Sardine" dress from the 1983 couture show that took 1,500 hours to complete

The Yves Saint Laurent “Sardine” dress from the 1983 couture show that took 1,500 hours to complete

I use so many processes in my work – some that involve the hand and some that involve the machine. For me, mixing the hand and the machine give the best results. I don’t think the hand or the machine have any use or value on their own. What matters is the form in relationship with the idea.” ~ Miuccia Prada 

In a way, the hand is being lost today. It’s important to me that a piece of clothing always feels like it has been touched by the hand at some point, even if there’s a lot of machine work involved.” ~ Sarah Burton

With just a week before it closed, I explored the exhibit at the Met: “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” I was extra lucky to experience it with costume designer and new friend, Katherine Winter, who has shared her story on TFIO. To see it through Katherine’s eyes, with her love of fabric and texture and construction, made this experience even more meaningful for me. Continue reading

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A Conservator’s Code: “First, Do No Harm”

Sarah Scaturro in her lab at the Met: Courtsey The Met

Sarah Scaturro in her lab at the Met: Courtesy The Met

At work at the Conservation Lab

At work at the Conservation Lab

The Lab at the Conservation Institute

The Lab at the Conservation Institute

Conservation relies on this mix of science, ethics, history, craftsmanship, artistic talent, and taste … We don’t want to act like we’re the designer.” ~ Sarah Scaturro, Head Conservator of the Costume Institute of the Met

Racked’s feature on Sarah Scaturro, Head Conservator of the Costume Institute of the Met, opened my eyes to the important job of fashion conservation and preservation. Because the Costume Institute organizes only one or more exhibitions annually – due to the sensitive nature of textiles – Scaturro and her team’s job begins at the exhibit’s planning process. As they prepare for an exhibition, the head curator, Andrew Bolton, first suggests a piece from the Met’s Collection; the costume is then pulled from storage and the team performs a condition assessment to gauge whether it’s strong enough for exhibition (can it withstand being on a mannequin?) and beyond that, what additional treatment it might require. Sometimes the garment isn’t strong enough, especially when it is decades old.

Simply put, conservators aim to preserve the life of a garment and the integrity of that garment. In fact, The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, one of the country’s major conservation organizations, lays out a number of rules in its code of ethics. Scaturro believes in this code and moves to minimize any damaging effects to a costume; by remembering to first, do no harm.

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