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Mechanical Couture

Mechanical Couture – Fashioning a New Order

Fashioning a New Order

October 14, 2010 – January 01, 2011


Haute Couture, by definition, is made-to-order, high-quality and hand-executed, and for centuries has signified the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. Conversely, machines typify the antithesis of couture, implying mass-production and decreased standards. Currently, however, we are witnessing a fascinating phenomenon of mechanical luxury – designers are reinterpreting couture as a hybrid of both mechanized process and customized craftsmanship.

Designers who employ machines and technology neither for their streamlining abilities nor for their capacity to take advantage of mass production. Instead these designers look to machines to realize completely new forms and products. As opposed to simply incorporating technological components into wearable pieces, these designers either create new machines in order to realize their vision, they are inspired by machines as concepts, they turn to the machine as collaborator or surrogate in the design process, or the machine becomes part of the actual work.

The Wind / Dai Fujiwara + Issey Miyake

Photo: Shai Ben-Efraim

The decision to turn to machines can be motivated by various reasons – philosophical, psychological, physiological, socio-political and scientific – thus resulting in a wide range of distinct visual styles. This exhibition explored each designer’s reasons and unique process in order to highlight these strategies. From witty lo-tech explorations to subtle inspirations and even mind-bending experiments, machines play a pivotal role in this redefinition of couture.

Photo: Shai Ben-Efraim

The installations in the exhibition were divided to four groups: These divisions were designed to highlight the specific role played by the machine through a simplified equation.

Designer + Machine = Product featured designers who directly incorporate a new machine or technology into their design processes in order to create new products.

Concept = Machine = Product exemplified work that was both inspired by machinery and incorporate machinery in the finished product.

Product = Machine presented products that become, as a result of the process, machines.

Designer through Machine = Product highlighted products that were created as a result of a machine-mediated process, not completely removing the designer from the design process, but giving over a substantial piece of the design phase to the machine.

The visit of the British artists took place thanks to the support of the BI ARTS program, the cultural exchange program of the British Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Culture and Sports. * The visit of the Dutch artists took place thanks to the support of the Mondrian Foundation, Amsterdam.


Dai Fujiwara (Creative Director for ISSEY MIYAKE) | Marloes ten Bhomer | Cedric Flazinski | Shelley Fox | Ying Gao | Patrick Killoran | Kobakant | Despina Papadopoulos | Alyce Santoro | Simon Thorogood | Galya Rosenfeld | Dana Farber | Yael Taragan