Paul Andrew’s delicately embroidered lucite heels surrounded by robotic-like hands exemplify the worlds of human handmade art colliding with computer aided technology. Manus x Machina, this year’s Costume Institute exhibit at The Met, explores Fashion in the Age of Technology. The image above, symbolizes the theme vividly. The display shown can be seen in the Bergdorf’s window’s on 5th Avenue. The ‘Bijoux’ mesh satin booties are a fabulous and elegant ‘Summer White’ statement shoe for sure!
My first thought was ‘attack on the shoes!’ but that is not the message. Appearing rigid and mechanical are the hands holding up the ivory sandals adorned with floral sequins and transparent lucite heels. See, aside from the reality that the majority of shoes are created with the assistance of graphics technology, even most ‘bespoke shoes’ are made with the help of some type of machinery even if to simply adhere the sole at the final stage. (and that’s minimal)
Specifically with shoes production, ‘luxury brands’ which mass produce their collections but strive for the best mix of quality, it is still understood that, “Most of the manufacturing stages are done by machine, but the machine is always guided by man’s experienced hand.” Ultimately, technology is another extension of human creativity.
“Most of the manufacturing stages are done by machine, but the machine is always guided by man’s experienced hand.”
The use of lucite heels is a popular heel trend by well known designers seen in Spring and Summer collections from Valentino’s translucent blue butterfly heels to Simone Rocha’s glistening chandelier heels and DVF’s Ibiza runway high heel sandals. An alternative from either a leather covered heel or those even edgier rocker chic metallics, lucite heels add a more modern futuristic look and manage not to diminish the luxurious appeal when paired with a mixture of textures from supple suede to embossed leather or intricate floral detailing shown above.
There is something unique about not only the clear transparency of lucite heel reflecting off the colors of the last but the durability is key. Don’t tell me you haven’t discovered it’s best to take off your heels at a desk as you may unintentionally kick your chair and then have scratches all over the stems of your shoes! Maybe that simply means you need to deal with anger management but either way, the shoe repair man is not a magician!
Lucite aka poly (methl methacrylate) is pretty much another term for plexiglass; the ‘synthetically’ derived material created by man/chemists in a laboratory back in 1928… ! Not as natural as animal leather or even vegetable leather or silver or gold metallic. Oh and that note, humans program the computers that make robots work or the software used to operate machines reading 3-D images.
A lucite heel can be analogous to glass in appearance as plexiglass is used in place of traditional glass windows. (yes… shoes….windows…) Of course, a ‘glass slipper’ is mostly a means of symbolism from a fairy tale and who would really wear a pair of glass slippers anyway?! Alright… perhaps they could be magical and if you want to shine on extravagantly, Sandra Choi of Jimmy Choo can make your dream come true for a price! Get your hands on a Swarovski adorned “Cinderella” heel. Otherwise….Lucite, is affordable and can hold the luminous reflection of light desired by glass but durable and indestructible alike.
On the other ‘hand’, the example of intricate hand embroidery used to arrange the floral beads is perhaps an art more attuned to a human with a potential for inaccuracy but that is part of the beauty of art, including the ‘art of the shoe’. The hand embroidery on each pair of shoes will always be slightly unique just as we are as humans. Returning to Maximus x Machina,
Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of The Costume Institute noted: “I think what the exhibition tries to address are those symbolic associations of the hand and the machine……”
A mesh between delicacy and indestructible endurance is displayed when mixing synthetic man made components whether via chemistry or machine with elements that present the ornate beauty in handwork and the human touch. Even if we are all not ‘artists’, we most all treasure anything that is one of a kind!
Photograph via Dwight Samuels
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