Claire Danes’ Met gown was ‘custom fiber optic organza with battery packs’

MET Costume Institute Gala 2016
My favorite gown at the Met Gala, and the one that I thought best captured the theme, was Claire Danes’ Cinderella style Zac Posen, an impressive gown in its own right which went to the next level by glowing and sparkleingwith the lights off. Many of you said that the theme Manus x Machina (hand and machine) was more than just technology meets design, that it was meant to incorporate both traditional hand design methods, like the intricate feathering on Zoe Saldana’s Dolce & Gabbana, and more modern technology, like the perfectly circular machine-cut grommets on Kate Mara’s dress. I think that’s accurate now that I’ve read through the whole theme description. Although I find that theme too all-encompassing I can now appreciate how more traditional dresses did fit the theme. Some of them still seemed phoned in to me, and I would have liked to see more designs with tech features built in, but I see your point.

Entertainment Weekly has an interview with Posen, who described the technology behind the dress that had everyone talking. It was made with a fibric optic material which transmitted light and had 30 battery packs built in to run it. Next year, I want to see recycled gowns (like Emma Watson’s) with solar-paneled lights. I kid but that would be fun. Plus imagine owning clothes that glow without batteries. As long as it didn’t attract bugs outside I would want that. Here’s more, from EW:

Posen set out to create a gown that highlighted “the place where technology and fantasy meet.” Made of custom fiber optic woven organza with 30 mini battery packs sewn into a thin organza lining, the result was a haute couture design that reflects his experimental approach to fashion. “We custom developed the fabrication, because I wanted to create something that had a transparency to it, but an illumination to it.” And though the major glam factor came from the light bright factor, even the smallest details — like its raw-edged hem — were considered ahead of the gown’s red carpet debut. “I think fashion has become something called fashiontainment,” reflects Posen. “And it’s our job as dreamers and creators to push that.”

That said, the pale blue, princess-style dress required 600 hours of work from Posen and his six-person team, and paid off when social media declared the dress a Cinderella moment. “It’s always great when something resonates and creates a visceral reaction,” says Posen, who has incorporated tech-inspired designs in previous collections and worked with Google’s Made with Code program.

[From Entertainment Weekly]

Here’s the video again:

Magic moments!! Zacposen #metgala #clairedanes

A video posted by @zacposen on

Some of you didn’t like this gown and I know that Lainey called it “gimmicky.” I usually agree with her, but I thought this was a beautiful fantasy, like something you would see on film created with CGI only achieved in real life. Posen designed with light, and this gown was incredible.

EW also reports that Claire had to return the dress by midnight and that she changed for the after party. It’s not specified in the story, but if this gown goes on display at the MET I’m going to visit it. I’m getting goosebumps imagining seeing it lit up. Plus it’s been a while since I’ve been to New York.

Met Gala 2016 'Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology'

photos credit: WENN, FameFlynet and Getty

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52 Responses to “Claire Danes’ Met gown was ‘custom fiber optic organza with battery packs’”

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  1. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    To me, any romance is pretty much killed by the words “operated by battery packs.” I get why people liked it, but I didn’t.

    • als says:

      Maybe the fashions houses will need special IT departments from now on.

    • Sally J. Freedman says:

      They couldn’t exactly sew live fairies into it.

    • Nica says:

      I agree, GoodNames. I didn’t like the dress at all – besides the lights there wasn’t anything original or interesting about it. Just a princess gown. And I think using battery packs is taking the most obvious interpretation of the theme and phoning it in.

    • NYer says:

      Has anyone explained why so many women had ridiculously shiny faces?

    • Magnoliarose says:

      Yeah it was ok. My daughter liked it but she wants to be a princess all of the time and is obsessed with them. I showed it to her and her eyes lit up. Still better than the best dressed duo though.

  2. Sam says:

    Lainey can call it a gimmick all she wants but at the end of the day this was the best dress of the night. Theme appropriate or not. The way it looks when it lights up just give me all these Disney vibes and it’s just so magical! My second favorite dress was Blake Lively’s which Lainey said was the worst dress. Meanwhile I’m like at least Claire and Blake didn’t just wrap themselves in aluminum foil and just walk out the house like the majority of attendees did. The theme wasn’t robots. It was machine x human or something like that. There was actually some thought into their dresses and I loved them both.

    • Myrna says:

      I love the Posen gown and, while I don’t particularly care of Lively on any level, I thought her gown was lovely as well.

      I adore Lainey.
      She’s in incredibly talented writer and her perspective is thoughtful and educated.
      Why she hates the Posen gown is probably because, as she often notes, it appeals to the “Minivan Majority” a group of idealistic, narrow minded women she doesn’t have regard for.

      As much as I like to think of myself as forward thinking and educated, maybe I have me some minivan in my blood.
      I’m a Walt Disney, princess dress, little girl fantasy, woman.
      An American who enjoys what I’ve accomplished and the opportunity afforded me.
      Sometimes I just want to be that without having to apologize to the world.


    • V4Real says:

      In order to see a dress illuminated in the dark, means she has to be in the dark don’t you think? In the bright lights of the red carpet it was nothing more than a really pretty Princess dress. Who wants to walk around looking like a glow in the dark stick(or those things that ravers use when they are at raves. Only thing that was missing was her sneakers that lights up when you walk.

    • tealily says:

      The lights may be a gimmick, but the fact that the dress is so completely gorgeous in its own right makes me feel like it rises above “gimmicky” into something much more magical. This is the first look I’ve seen from the night that I really, really like.

    • Amy says:

      Best! best! best!

    • I LOVED it. I have to think and write about fashion every single day, and I thought that Posen managed to package the theme of the Ball, a classic design reminiscent of Charles James, and a childhood fantasy gown all on one fell swoop. Like it or hate it, THIS is what the Met Ball is supposed to be about. Anything that required battery packs that can look that ethereal is ok by me.

      Vogue however was too busy preening over the Kimye Bedazzled Hot Mess of a Michael Jackson 1987 MTV video costume to notice people like Danes (and HIDDLESTON…did you SEE that TUX!?) FFS, Kanye wore ripped Dad jeans and a rhinestone jeans jacket and they were losing their S**T over it, and Danes is literally glowing, lighting up a room, and she gets a pass. Anna Wintour, you are on borrowed time girl.

  3. qwerty says:

    If you have to explain to me why a dress is interesting, it’s not interesting.

    • als says:

      Just like in Sarah Jessica Parker’s case. She wrote an editorial to explain her clothes.

    • CornyBlue says:

      It was plenty exciting without the explanation but some people might want to know how it works, this aint someone explaining their fashion choices to you lmao

  4. drea says:

    The dress is very pretty but before I saw it I pictured something off of the television show My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. It was much more beautiful before they lit it up.

  5. Dtab says:

    Its amazing and I love how its a princess style that ready to party when the lights go out…..I am sure this is the dress most little girls dream when playing dress up.

  6. Esmom says:

    I think I’d write it off as gimmicky if the lights were the main feature and the dress was more of an afterthought. But even unlit, that is an exquisitely made gown, one of the best I’ve seen of Posen’s. And Danes has really never looked more beautiful. I think it’s genuinely iconic in terms of fashion moments.

    • tealily says:

      I tried to say this above, but you’ve said it much more eloquently. Great fashion moment.

  7. Nancy says:

    On an ordinary red carpet, it would be ridiculous. But this was the Met Gala, and I think she killed it. So happy she is getting the attention as opposed to the usual suspects. I mean she could have come dressed squeezed into a dress that looked like a condom or had her butt cheeks hanging out, but she looked like a lit up Barbie Doll and it was awesome.

  8. SilkyMalice says:

    I just can’t with that dress. Plus how could she have danced or had fun in that thing? Or gotten within more than a careful 2 feet of anyone else?

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I agree. I can see how some people think it’s magical or Disney or whatever. It’s just too much like those earring my sil gave me for Christmas that blink lights and play Holly Jolly Christmas. I just don’t like clothes and accessories that require batteries.

    • tealily says:

      It’s not really a night about ready-to-wear though, is it?

  9. Caela says:

    Hehe, I enjoy that it was described as a Cinderella dress and then that she had to return it by midnight!

  10. Pinky says:

    Maybe next Posen can breathe some life into Homeland’s story lines? And (year-old spoiler alert) Quinn?


    • Myrna says:


      What was a compelling expertly written show in its 1st season has become a lazy, boring show.

      The acting is superb – 2nd to none.
      But it’s clearly not what it once was.

      Did it happen when Dane’s took over production reigns?
      Did writers change then, too?
      I seem to remember that she’s doing some of the writing now?

  11. Melissa says:

    She had to return the dress at midnight. Or what? Her limo would turn into a pumpkin?

  12. Bridget says:

    It looks like a leftover from last year’s Charles Jordan event.

  13. Green Is Good says:

    Definitely a show-stopper of a gown! Love it.

  14. kri says:

    Normally this style of dress isn’t my thing because of the Princessness but I loved this when it went lights out. It reminds of those bio-luminescent jellyfish, and I love watching them. I think that’s why I flipped for this dress.

  15. Miss M says:

    It is a gorgeous dress. It looks like a mix of Elsa’s clothes (from frozen) and Katniss’s clothes. Kudos to Posen!

  16. Sally Tomato says:

    I’m a 40-something Disney dork who wishes my bootleg Cinderella dress looked this good. I’m going to up the shallow ante and thank you for including pictures of her husband. Zero shame.

  17. magnolia says:

    I really like this dress and I love Claire Danes too. But she needs a new makeup person. She always looks oily at these events. I’m guessing she’s gets “dewy” easily.

    • Anguishedcorn says:

      I was so distracted by (IMO) her truly awful makeup. Her skin was awful; a weird shade and so shiny!

  18. Loved it. I do a lot of circuitry programming with youth that culminates with wearable tech —conductive fabric, LED sequins, some light coding for effects, so we will def be trying to dissect this design. Gonna take some educated guesses on what size batteries were used before we go looking for the answers ( 30 3v coin cell vs something larger).

  19. Rem says:

    Haven’t those crap-tacky “Gypsy Wedding” weirdos already done that? More elegantly executed, but pretty much the same concept. Not sure what all the fuss is about.

  20. CornyBlue says:

    I feel like if any dress could make me cry on seeing it it would be this. It beautiful while being interesting and actually does something to incorporate technology. However I wish this was on someone more statuesque like Rosie Huntington Whiteley or Karlie Kloss or Charlize Theron. But beautiful dress and perhaps the only one i will remember in 10 years.

  21. Maleficent says:

    I loved it because I have a soft spot for fairy tale dresses. …I wonder how heavy it was?

  22. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    It kept in line with the theme, it’s beautifully designed and it produced an smazing effect that we could very well see in fashion very soon. It was perfect not gimmicky, this isn’t an average red carpet. The amount of boring dresses at the met made me sad honestly.

    • tracking says:

      +1 It could have been trite, but the execution was perfect and refined. It was exquisite.

    • Amide says:

      Agreed to all your points.
      Don’t care what anyone else said I LOVED this dress

    • teacakes says:

      same, it was like the Posen version of something Hussein Chalayan or McQueen would have done in their day (Chalayan with his table/robot dresses, McQueen with the spray-painted robo

      His clothes are usually basic and trying too hard but this dress looked great and dramatic even without the light-up, one of the rare instances he got it right.

  23. Miran says:

    A lot of times niche dresses lose their wow factor when the special part of it is taken away, ie this one in the normal light, but it doesnt do that. Its an all around beautiful dress in its own right.

  24. Vizia says:

    On behalf of my friends in the Maker/Burner communities, I feel slightly peeved by “We custom developed the fabrication, because I wanted to create something that had a transparency to it, but an illumination to it.”–it implies that this was all his idea, when this fabric/tech has been around for some time. I’m sure they had to custom-fab the enormous swathes of fabric–most of the consumer-level stuff is very small scale, you can buy corsets made of this on Etsy. The whole things must have cost the earth! But I don’t want to diss him, really–he did an amazing job with a very difficult material.×75-cm.html?gclid=CjwKEAjwu6a5BRC53sW0w9677RcSJABoFn4sHw5PeTpntcKFEWovI4lEcwk3fF1Ne34_fRAZq9U3HBoCzeDw_wcB

  25. Lbliss says:

    All those comments yesterday about how this and that person didn’t get the theme, and I knew the writer didn’t understand the theme. That’s why I don’t read the fashion posts here, I just browse through the pics.

  26. Lucy says:

    It really was an incredible piece of work, art and fashion. Posen definitely brought it, and Claire looked lovely.

  27. JH82DC says:

    I loved the dress, but I was disappointed that it was Claire Danes wearing it… lol. It sounds mean, but honestly, it’s how I felt! I am not a fan of hers in general–she always comes across as a little try-hard when it comes to showing how “real” she is… And her acting is OK. (I mean, it’s not that different from her teen angst/confused act in ‘My So Called Life’. Just a grown up version of that. But back to the dress…
    So much thought went into this dress, but no thought regarding hair and makeup on whoever would wear it (Claire in this case). Her makeup was terrible, and that helmet hair was awful. It made her look more washed out, and did not flatter her face. But this is actually a problem throughout the entire Met Gala attendees–everyone got into the game for the dresses, but not everyone bothered to complete their look by polishing up their hair and makeup game.

  28. Erica_V says:

    The above explanation of the theme is exactly what I thought it was! That’s why I thought it was appropriate to see all hand made dresses, all tech made dresses, or some combination of the two.

    This is my best dressed of the night.