Designer Alexander McQueen, the impact of ancient Chinese art on fashion, and the 3D printer are all areas of exploration and interest for Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Bolton, who has curated two of the ten most successful exhibitions in The Met’s history, discusses here the future of fashion, the power of technology and proving fashion can be art.
On the inspiration for his current exhibition, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology: “I was at a Chanel couture show two years ago, and there was a wedding dress that really articulated the theme beautifully. From the front it had this super modern feeling to it, made out of scuba knit that was machine-sewn. But when the bride turned around the [10-foot train] was hand embroidered with paillettes and gemstones and pearls. It was really this great amalgamation of the hand and machine.”
On elevating fashion as art: “The McQueen show did change people’s ideas about [fashion] – it was a very paradigm-shifting exhibition in that respect. I think people came away from the exhibition and all of them said, without a doubt, ‘McQueen was an artist, and what he created was art.’”
On balancing art and entertainment: “When deciding on the concept for an exhibition, I try to come up with a theme that’s relevant and has some sort of social significance and cultural appeal. At the same time, you do have to entertain your visitors. Part of our role is to try and make visitors see fashion differently.”