Technologically based design is staking its claim in the fashion industry. Fashion houses that once prided themselves on the handmade touches of highly trained seamstresses are now letting computers do the work. Previously seen as a mark of impersonality, uniformity, and mass-production (versus a sense of luxury that comes with the rarity of “high-class” clothing ownership), the use of technology has grown to be considered its own advantage; a sign of sophistication, thoughtfulness, and originality that presents itself not just in form, but in function. Through July 10, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston presents “#Techstyle,” an exhibition diving into how these recent advances are changing the design process, manufacturing, and the relationship between people and their clothes.
After an introductory gallery featuring works by four iconic designers at the front of the movement–Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, and Comme des Garçons founder Rei Kawakubo–are two themed sections: Production and Performance.
The former covers the ways contemporary designers have employed technology; for example, the digital images used in Mary Katrantzou’s prints, a Noa Raviv laser cut bodysuit, and even 3D-printed pieces like shoes from Francis Bitonti Studio, which could one day be downloaded directly into the home (complete with a custom fit). Advanced manufacturing processes meant to create a more sustainable system are also explored. Performance examines how the items will function once they reach that consumer; this includes clothing that can act as a video monitor, medical monitoring device, or even pieces that change in response to light, heat, and wind. Co-curator Pamela Parmal says, "#Techstyle challenges visitors with novel ideas about what clothing is and can be. Fashion can now serve as a multimedia art form, charge your phone, monitor your brain activity, or communicate with your friends."
The aforementioned hashtag not only functions as the exhibition’s title, but also enables museum-goers to continue the conversation across social media.