The 1980’s were a timeless period when people, primarily the youth in the United Kingdom and the United States rebuffed their peaceful and psychedelic 1970 counterparts and adopted a much more aggressive and anarchical stance which was popularized by music icons such as the Sex Pistols. leading to the development of a new genre of fashion: punk.
Starting this spring, and running up until the end of summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is hosting a new remarkable exhibition, PUNK: Chaos to Couture, which traces punk from its inception to its journey to becoming a major influence on high fashion in the late 20th century right into the 21st century.
The exhibition, curated by Andrew Bolton, features seven galleries with almost one hundred designs for both men and women and it includes vintage artifacts as well as renditions of how modern haute couture fashion has borrowed from the genre. The exhibition also pays due attention to the connection between the punk “do-it-yourself” idea and the couture notion of “made-to-measure”. The featured articles are set against backdrops of New York and London, two cities that were often thought of as the mother and father of punk and are presented in several media forms, including music videos and audio clips and effects of punk symbols like Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten. The exhibition also includes a facsimile of a 1975 bathroom in CBGB, a punk rock club in New York that was a major hot spot for the bedlam of the revolutionaries of the time.
Of all the exhibitions to ever grace New York City, this is one of the most interesting and insightful. Thirty years ago punk was a genre that literally screamed chaos and anti-establishment. It obscenely rebelled against anything that was mainstream and demanded to be heard and seen with its spikes, pornographic images, rips, leather pants and bondage like clothing. But over time the fashion trends of this highly individualized genre were absorbed and transformed by popular culture and high flying designers, such as those of Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel and Moschino, to create elegant and beautiful pieces of clothing with an added edge. Whether this amalgamation has caused punk to lose its status and initial “badass” reputation is up to you, but the exhibition is definitely something you wouldn’t want to miss. It’s a fascinating and eye opening walk down memory lane that ends closer to home than you think it will.
May 9 – August 14, 2013
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue
New York, NY