Fashion fiend Jony Ive calls handmade clothes overrated

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This 3D printed dress will be part of Apple's Manus x Machina exhibition.
This bizarre 3-D printed dress is part of the Apple-sponsored Manus x Machina exhibition.
Photo: Nicholas Alan Cope/The Met

An Apple-sponsored exhibition featuring dozens of weirdly wonderful gowns — some produced using 3-D printers, lasers and other exotic techniques — should challenge people’s assumptions that handmade items are inherently better, according to Jony Ive.

Apple’s chief design officer talked up the power of machine-powered manufacturing when he took center stage at this morning’s press preview for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Manus x Machina exhibition. The show, which opens today in New York City, explores the relationship between fashion and technology with a gallery of more than 150 unique couture gowns from designers such as Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Dior, Miuccia Prada and Yves Saint Laurent.


Some people in attendance streamed part of Ive’s remarks on Periscope:

“We are thrilled at Apple to help bring to life Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” Ive said. “When Anna [Wintour] and Andrew [Bolton, the show’s curator] first talked to me about the exhibition, I was particularly intrigued that it would stimulate a conversation exploring the relationship between what is made by man and what is made by machine,” Ive said. “That it would challenge the preconception held by some that the former is somehow inherently more valuable. Not only in the context of today, but also the future.”

Ive is co-chair of tonight’s Met Gala, run by Vogue Editor-in-Chief Wintour. Apple Music endorser Taylor Swift will be one of the co-hosts alongside actor Idris Elba.

Manus X Machina focuses on the founding of haute couture in the 19th century that was aided by the invention of the sewing machine, and how it gave rise to the assumption that handmade clothing is more luxurious and elitist, while machine-made garments are just about mass production.

Ive, who knows a thing or two about using high-tech machines to build a billion luxury-quality devices, championed the use of tech in fashion for its ability to push new boundaries.

“It’s easy to think a craft can’t change, but important to remember all craft process was, at some point, new,” said Ive. “At some point, challenged convention. Not to be contrarian, but enabled by some breakthrough. Some newly discovered principle or sometimes some wonderful accident.”

The exhibition will be on display from May 2 to August 14 in the museum’s Robert Lehman Wing. If you can make it to NYC in time, you can get a peek at some of the gowns on display.