Couture is fast advancing towards technology. But, is modernism the only technique to remain significant? And when technology calls, fashion’s more than happy to answer.
Couture, with an age-old concept dating back to the 17th century, is still considered the most high-end dressmaking skill. With its grand story-telling concept revolving around unusual fabric, hand-executed techniques and exclusive customised clothing hand sewed with extreme detail seem to be evolving. An age-old clothing technique that once created only dreamy and tranquil visions have leaped onto a spirit to deal and change with the times, conceptualising couture to move into a real and contemporary world. While it used to be a club of ‘old money’ associates, its fast progress involving both centuries-old tailoring methods and digital technologies like 3D printing, blockchain is noteworthy.
A new plethora of couture designers who understand the obsession of the Gen Z crowd with technology is seen shifting the couture paradigm. John Galliano’s Fall 2018 artisanal collection for Maison Margiela had metallic VR headsets and Apple products. Fall 2019 collection highlighted upon upcycled trousers and using pixelated images as prints. Iris Van Herpen takes the notch higher here, with all of her collections focusing on 3D printing featuring robotic dresses of feathers in constant movement.
Austrian fashion designer and couturier Flora Miranda, who had worked under Van Herpen, presents ensembles dipped in a technological culture that leads to a world based on both actual and virtual reality. She says, “There is a reason for traditional dresses to still be dominating, most people feel comfortable in traditionally made garments. We know, however, that the world moves on. Hence, it’s necessary to make sure that fashion is at the forefront of technology and give this new generation the opportunity to dress according to their digital playgrounds.” For an intricately designed world like fashion, can a technology-driven machine cause hindrance to the human creative process? She enlightens us, “The more you get into software, the more opportunities you discover for problem-solving. There was one crucial moment when I finally understood - every detail in computers is human-made. It is sometimes not about what we think is logical, because we might be the first to try something with a computer that nobody else has thought about before. This means the tools are not there yet. This is frustrating and limiting at the moment but also means there are so many opportunities for further development. We explore the limits to push and move further”.
Presenting her own varied collections based on 3D scanning - ‘Pneuma’, ‘LaLaLand’, she takes us through the intricate process, “One example of our experiments is that in the ‘Ready To Die’ collection we 3D scanned dresses in museum collections, worked on the digital model and developed a technique by which we are able to recreate the digital design by hand again. The process is absolutely unusual to fashion and shows a clear direction for the future. Conceptually I am triggered by the thought that the internet is both a human-built and a machine-generated space, where we can create a reality to our own wishes. Within this, I enjoy observing how humans behave online or in correlation to machines.”
The demonstration done by efforts, skills, artistic visions of how high technology had seamlessly absorbed into the age-old artistry of haute couture clearly proves a point that changes are inevitable and the crossover of fashion including art and technology is a practical and necessary matter.