When it was announced last week that the theme of the 2016 Met Ball was going to be fashion and technology, it came as surprise. Not only was the theme unexpected, but so were the event’s sponsor (Apple) and co-chair (Jony Ive). The Wall Street Journal had the opportunity to sit down and discuss the upcoming Met Ball (officially themed: ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology’) with Ive, Anne Wintour, and Andrew Bolton, who will soon take over as head curator at the Costume Institute.
Speaking to Apple’s involvement, Ive, who is the company’s chief design officer, discussed how wearable devices such as the Apple Watch were pushing the shift from industrial to fashion design. He explains, “As products become more personal, something that is worn on the wrist put us in the space of fashion.” Apple seemingly acknowledges the different between the two design philosophies, bringing onboard Marc Newson, who has experience in both fields, to work on the Apple Watch. Ive recognizes that Apple is just beginning to understand the universe of fashion design, but that it is a perspective which will shape future products.
The accompanying exhibit to the Ball will focus on showing how automation and craftsmanship are equally as valuable in shaping fashion. Bolton explains, “We’re trying to dissolve the dichotomy of the hand and machine, and present it as a continuum of practice.” Jony Ive is fully aligned with the Costume Institute’s view, stating, “It’s a completely false notion that there is inherent value in what is made by hand, or an inherent lack of value in what is made by machine” This is a concept that Ive believes strongly in and embraces in his daily work. While responsible for designing incredibly advanced hardware and software, everything Ive works on starts with hand drawn sketches. Ive details, “I still draw with a pencil and paper every day, and enhance with relevant technology.”
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the 2016 Met Ball theme is the headline grabbing acknowledgement of the growing relationship between fashion and technology. From design, to materials, to manufacturing, to marketing, to retail, the two fields are almost inseparable. And their relationship is only growing tighter, as more and more tech becomes fashion oriented and fashion becomes increasingly tech oriented. Apple’s involvement in such a marquee fashion event symbolizes the company is going all-in as it tries to make personal tech fashionable. The red carpet of the 2016 Met ball should be interesting!