Lights, camera, fashion! You would be hard-pressed to find a black-tie gala more known and respected than the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual ball. “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” centered on how machine techniques have changed the art of garment making. The Oscars of the East Coast includes an invite list that reads like a who’s who of entertainment and fashion elite. This year, the number of reality TV stars walking the red carpet was a major theme too. Keeping Up with the Kardashians, House of DVF, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and American Idol were represented.
The fete is always innovative. The Costume Institute’s spring 2016 exhibition illustrates the emergence of a distinction between the hand (manus) and the machine (machina). Silvery robots greeted guests as they entered the Met. Co-chair Anna Wintour (Vogue’s Editor in Chief and Condé Nast’s artistic director) and Andrew Bolton, the Curator-In-Chief of the Costume Institute, produced a groundbreaking exhibition. Gala co-chair Taylor Swift mixed hard and soft with a cutout snakeskin minidress by Louis Vuitton along with ballerina heels. Co-chair of the Met Gala Idris Elba looked debonair in Tom Ford.
On a chilly night in New York City, Met veteran Sarah Jessica Parker walked the carpet in an all-white ensemble that was Hamilton-inspired. will.i.am pulled off a face visor. Jourdan Dunn got the robot memo in a gorgeous silver bugle-beaded dress. Emily Ratajkowski wore a soft, futuristic number by Prabal Gurung. Hip siblings Jaden Smith and Willow Smith arrived in Louis Vuitton and Chanel, respectively. Academy Award-winner (and American Idol runner-up) Jennifer Hudson wowed in a white silk gown featuring 3D beading from H&M.
The Weeknd arrived with girlfriend Bella Hadid. Gig Hadid wore a gunmetal Tommy Hilger frock and was escorted on the red carpet by Zayn Malik, who displayed armored sleeves. Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ Kylie Jenner modeled a see-through Balmain dress and sister Kendall Jenner rocked it out in Atelier Versace. Kris Jenner didn’t miss an opportunity to be in front of the cameras.
The major red carpet arrivals were arguably Lady Gaga in Atelier Versace and Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West in Balmain. After her game-changing visual album Lemonade Beyoncé hit the red carpet in Givenchy. Madonna attended the Met Gala wearing a sheer Givenchy gown.
High-tech meets high fashion. Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig teamed up with IBM’s Watson, a cognitive system that uses language processing to analyze data and answer questions, to create the Cognitive Dress. Model Karolina Kurkova donned the flower-bombed Marchesa hit with an illusion bodice and white roses, each embedded with an LED that displayed different colors depending on the general sentiment of social media responses about the Met Gala.
From Google Glasses to Fitbit and FuelBands, tech is now “a thing” in the fashion pantheon. Its Silicon Valley meets Yves Saint Laurent. Want to reinvent the stiletto using structural engineering? That can be done. Want to design a biometric shirt that captures vital signs and relays them to your phone? Ralph Lauren did that in 2014.
Apple sponsored the 2016 Met Gala, which was fitting. Steve Jobs championed clean simplicity in design. Apple enlisted executives at Burberry and YSL to assist with designing the Apple Watch. Google Glass co-brands with Diane von Furstenberg. The House of DVF star attended the 2016 Met Gala with a head full of butterflies.
Digitally driven production techniques are enabling wearable computers or devices; augmented reality; and virtual reality. The existing wearable technology market is dominated by smart glasses, watches and fitness bands, many of which interact with smartphones and tablets via apps. As designer Tom Ford once said, fashion “can be a mirror of where we are culturally at a moment in time, or it can be an indicator of where we are going.” This begs the question, where are we going when it comes to protecting digital fashion and the data stored within?
A successful technology must actively harness, protect, and enforce its intellectual property. Wearable technology has moved far beyond eyeglasses, hearing aids, and pacemakers. Whether the application is for fitness, health, security, childcare, pet care, gaming, or fashion, companies need to protect their IP and exhaustively consider copyright, database rights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and design rights.
What about the consumer’s protection from government intrusion and data breaches of personal information collected on wearable technology? The biometric data collected by an Apple Watch or smart shirt could be aggregated and sold to medical or actuarial businesses, or it could be used for targeting products. The security of data collected from users of wearables, especially data considered “personal information” (such as health, financial, and location data) could be used to identify the individual to whom the data is linked, either by a single piece of information or by triangulation of intelligence. Unauthorized, unintentional or overreaching use and dissemination of personal information creates potential liability for parties.
Gigi Hadid And Zayn Malik
Chloe Grace Moretz
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West
The future looks bright: For the first time, E! hosted a Live from the Red Carpet Met Ball special. But celebrity access isn’t always, well, accessible: Since last year, posting on social media has been banned after the red carpet. As the red carpet part of the evening has become a giant marketing, branding, and cross-promotional extravaganza, organizers want to save something for VIPs. Grab your gavel, join the conversation, and tell us what you think about the 2016 Met Gala.
- Who had the best red carpet look at the Met Gala?
- Who had the worst red carpet look?
- The future of wearables: Are you for or against wearable technology?
- What did you think of the fashion meets technology theme: Love it or hate it?
- Should the Met Ball be televised?