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Essay on China Through the Looking Glass Exhibition

Date:  2021-05-24 09:33:29
6 pages  (1411 words)
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China Through the Looking Glass Art exhibition was done in 2015 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which viewed the effectiveness of design from Chinese, to the fashion of western people over the centuries. The exhibition was supported by Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda. Museum's Chinese Galleries and Anna Wintour Costume Centre was where the presentations of the exhibition took place. China has explored the fashion industry for centuries, and so the main aim of the exhibition was to explore how China has improved the fashion. The collaboration between the Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art shows how good fashion can be used on other things such as Chinese customs, films paintings with the intention of noticing the other Chinese imagery (Bolton, Andrew & Galliano, 2015, p10). China through the Looking Glass involves Chinese art that shows the Haute Couture and the avant-garde ready to wear designs. The examples are more than 140 in number. In order to reveal how the popular cultural narratives view the China imagery, the film representations of the China are incorporated in the design. The richness of Chinese history on the importance of cinema is also revealed in the art. Anna Wintour Costume presents a combination of the mirrored reflections that focus on the imperial China. The reflections are clarified by the scenes from the showed films by the Chinese directors such as Ang Lee, Chen Kaige, and others. Above Anna wontour Costume is the second floor that shows the fashion from the 1700s which includes the design of decorative art from Imperial China. The arts include bronze, jade, and porcelain of white and black color. As shown in the films and photographs, the art shows special beauty which reveals the modern fashion with decorative art. China through the looking Glass clearly illustrates the creativity of the past and present in the beauty industry.

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Manus and Machina: Fashion in Age of Technology

The Metropolitan Museum of Arts 2016 exhibition was viewed from the 5th of May to 5th of September which was presented by Robert Lehman Wing in the Museum to examine how Haute Couture and the avant-garde ready to wear are designed by the use of hands and machine. The exhibition involved more than 170 examples which are from the 1900s to the present. The exhibition clearly shows how the difference between the handmade and machine made came about at the onset of industrialization and the increased production (Bolton, Andrew & Nicholas, 2016, p25). Hand and machine tools are described as discordant tools in the creative process of design. There is a difference between Haute Couture and the ready to wear. The museums first and the ground floor is occupied by The Robert Wing Galleries which has a series of case studies and the Haute Couture, and ready to wear are put to reveal the difference between their hand and machine DNA. The traditional metiers of the haute couture are structured in the exhibition. A series of alcoves, feather work, and artificial flowers are seen on the first floor. The arrangement of enfilade, examination of pleating, lacework and leatherwork are displayed on the ground floor. Innovative technologies such as the 3D printing, laminating, laser cutting and computer modeling are some of the traditional techniques displayed on both floors. The scuba knit portrays the conflux between the handmade and machine made whereby the pattern on the train was hand painted with the pigments that are gold metallic, and the machine was used to print the rhinestones and decorated with pearls and gemstones.


The similarity that is very clear between the Manus x Machinus and China through the Looking Glass is that both exhibitions utilized the traditional ideas. In Manus X Machinus, the design production is not only about technology advancement but also the use of the traditional idea of hand making. The Haute Couture is handmade which portrays that traditionally the use of hands revealed the cult of personality and the liking of the past craftsmanship. The Karl haute couture was initially designed using the hands and later manipulated by use of the machine to create a good appearance of the pixelated baroque pattern.' Hands were used to paint the metallic pigments and the machine used to print rhinestones and finally decorated with pearls and gemstones using hands. It is clear that the Manus x Machinus also borrowed the traditional idea in the exhibition to come up with different designs. The use of machine and hands is incorporated to make the designs. All the costumes in the exhibition are accompanied by a text to explain how it was made. The hand machine continuum is clarified by the presence of a video alongside the designs that show the genetic makeup of the designs. In the China Through the looking Glass shows how Chinese uses their culture in the western fashion. The Chinese culture of 1900 to the present was used in the designs and the reception in the exhibition itself goes back to the centuries showing that the ideas used were traditional. The models in the past were used to modify the present designs. In the exhibition, most of the fashion is from the 20th century and much of the art used, is older.


The difference seen between "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" and China looking through the glass is that in Manus X Machina, there is a distinction of hand made and machine made designs clarity. The exhibition was able to explain to many viewers the relationship between handmade and machine made Haute Couture and the readymade design. The 170 ensembles and dresses in the show of Manus x Machina examines the use of hands to create haute couture to individual clients and then the machine is used to make it more appealing. The technologies such as the 3-D printing laser cutting and other patterns involving custom software are utilized in the exhibition. The Manus X Machina is exceptional because of the unique idea of using different new technologies in the fashion industry. The exhibition celebrates the French fashion designers and shows the knowledge of designing traditional Haute Couture and the ready to wear fashion. The China Through the looking Glass exhibition showed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art does not indicate the use of technology such as the 3-D in their design. The appreciation of the Chinese culture in the design of the Chinese art to the western countries is seen in the exhibition. Unlike the "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology," the China Through the looking Glass does not show the use technology to boost the fashion industry.


The theme of Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is successfully met by the "Manus x Machina: Fashion in Age of Technology." The exhibition was viewed as attractive because many people in the world had the chance to examine the connection that is seen between the handmade and machine made fashion designs (Boston, Andrew & Nicholas, 2016, p26). It clearly shows the differences of the fashion designed by the use of hands and others by using machines and how the modern technology misunderstandings by the public have brought a distinction. The exhibition describes machine and hand tools as incompatible tools in design industry. The enlarged videos displayed behind every dress shows the efforts and details that are used in the crafting of the dresses that has feathers and also the beautiful gowns. The use of new technology was also present in the exhibition. The theme of beauty is clearly showed by the 3-D printed works at the exhibition and the design of using corals makes it be distinct. Hussein Chalayan had the idea of making types of dresses that could be motorized by the use of remote. The floral parts that moved from the dress revealing beauty in the design. This idea brings the common logic in the fashion industry and clearly shows beauty. Generally, Manus x Machina clearly introduces the viewer to a class of highly fashionable couturiers. People who attended the exhibition were able to learn the techniques and the materials that are used in designing each of the dresses. The visitors got inspired by learning the easiest way to look elegant by the use of simple ways in Fashion.

Work cited

Bolton, Andrew, and John Galliano. China: Through the Looking Glass. , 2015. Print.

Bolton, Andrew, and Nicholas A. Cope. Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. ,

2016. Print.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012.


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