Depending on how culturally woke you are, it may shock you to learn that Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology is more than just an elaborate explainer for the 2016 Met Gala’s ‘white tie tech’ dress code.

Contrary to its appearance as the year’s chicest personal branding opportunity, the Met Gala actually exists to support the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Costume Institute exhibition Manus x Machina – a staggering showcase of the inestimable possibilities of fashion when the world’s most creative designers are given total freedom of creative expression.

Assembled by Head Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, the exhibit features more than 150 examples of avant-garde haute couture and ready-to-wear from the early 20th century to now, including works from Dutch techno couture master Iris van Herpen, Issey Miyake, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent,  Miuccia Prada and Karl Lagerfeld for CHANEL, whose couture wedding dress (which took the house’s petite mains 450 hours to make) is the exhibition’s arguable headliner.

You can preview some of the exhibition’s key pieces below, before making an international beeline for Manus x Machina, which opens at the Metropolitan Museum from May 5 to August 14.

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Upper Level Gallery View: Case Study Wedding ensemble, Karl Lagerfeld (French, born Hamburg, 1938) for House of Chanel (French, founded 1913), autumn/winter 2014–15 haute couture, back view; Courtesy of CHANEL Patrimoine Collection
Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Upper Level Gallery View: Embroidery Case Study “L’Eléphant Blanc” Evening Dress, Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936–2008) for House of Dior (French, founded 1947) , spring/summer 1958, haute couture; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1977
Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Upper Level Gallery View: Artificial Flowers Case Study Wedding Ensemble, Karl Lagerfeld (French, born Hamburg, 1938) for House of Chanel (French, founded 1913), autumn/winter 2005–6 haute couture, back view; Courtesy of CHANEL Patrimoine Collection
Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Upper Level Gallery View: Embroidery, Christian Dior Autumn/Winter 1949-50 Haute Couture
Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Left to right: Raf Simons for Christian Dior, Autumn/Winter 2012-13 Haute Couture; Prada Autumn/Winter 2015 Ready-To-Wear; Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2012
Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Lower Level Gallery View: Tailleur and FlouCredit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

thoughts?