Tuesday, May 7, 2013

PUNK: Chaos to Couture

A 1992-93 Versace ensemble.

The new exhibit PUNK: Chaos to Couture opens to the public Thursday at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and if you are in New York and have even the tiniest bit of rebel in you, then you need to see this show.

A 2013 studded jacket and lace dress from Christopher Bailey for Burberry.

In his remarks to the press, curator Andrew Bolton noted that punk clothing “loses its potency when shown in a museum” and between that and wanting “to avoid stereotypes and clichés” of the punk style, he focused the exhibit on the punk influence on haute couture and ready-to-wear, influence which has been used to, as he says, “often surprising and beautiful effect.”

A collection of late 70s T-shirts by Vivienne Westwood.

In the first three galleries punk’s roots are traced from New York City and London in the mid-1970s, showing clothes from the period (next to contemporary renditions), along with recreations of a 1975 CBGB urinal, and the boutique founded by Malcom McLaren and Vivienne Westwood called Seditionaries, at 430 King’s Road in London, to underscore punk’s ties to music and political and social upheaval.

A recreated seedy CBGB toilet room to remind you of the nastiness of punk!

Ensembles by Thom Browne, left, and Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy, right.

The final four galleries are devoted to do-it-yourself, which Bolton notes is “punk’s enduring contribution to high fashion.” “D.I.Y. Hardware” explores the use of studs, spikes, safety pins, chains, zippers, and staples. “D.I.Y. Bricolage” shows the incorporation of trash and recycled materials in clothing. “D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop” marks punk’s use of text and images to provoke and confront mainstream norms. “D.I.Y. Destroyed” examines punk’s devotion to garments that have been shredded, ripped, and deconstructed.

The entire exhibit shows that punk, as Bolton says, was “not always a pretty picture” but it has inspired designers to create unique, sometimes lovely, and always hard-edged garments that have heavily borrowed from the independent spirit of the punk movement.

These Alexander McQueen dresses are from 2009-10, one of his final collections.

I love the detail on this McQueen ensemble.

Maison Martin Margiela ensembles from 1989 through 2009.

A 2008 dress by Dolce & Gabbana of hand-painted silk organza and tulle.

A 2011 distressed suit by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. 

I love the pattern the holes in the fabric make!

A 2009 ensemble from Rodarte.

Detail from a 2004-5 Comme des Garçons ensemble.

This exhibit struck a chord with me and I liked it far more than I expected. I realized as I walked through the packed press preview among well-known and noted writers, journalists, broadcasters, and photographers that penning a blog is a bit punk rock—it’s definitely D.I.Y. and at times very anti-establishment. It felt quite punk to represent my tiny little blog literally next to Suzy Menkes, there to represent the International Herald Tribune. If, as Bolton proposed, originality and individuality are the hallmarks of punk rock style, then I (wearing my black leather bracelet and black nail polish of course) salute all my blogging sisters out there as the punkers you are in your hearts, even if you’d rather wear pearls around your neck than safety pins in your ears.

1972-74 ensembles by Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren.

PUNK: Chaos to Couture is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 9 to August 14, 2013.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York NY 10028
Note that starting July 1, 2013 The Met (and the Cloisters) will be open seven days a week!


Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

This was a wonderful teaser! Now I really want to visit NY soon so I won't miss this show. I stlll regret not making it to the Alexander McQueen show.


Jill said...

Hi Suzanne, I can see this show being almost as popular as the McQueen exhibit. There are several pieces by him on display and there is definitely a dark and hard-edged feel to the show. I hope you get to see it! XO, Jill

PinkCheetahVintage said...

Fantastic exhibit! The CBGB bathrooms were totally gross-- all gone now, though.
Becky :)

Paula Ruta said...

Jill, I was thinking of you the other day when I was perusing the outfits at the Met Ball; most of which I was disappointed in! I thought they were so BORING especially with this theme! I dunno, maybe we have just gotten accustomed to the punk look and no longer find ripped stockings/material shocking anymore. And you liked this exhibit more than you expected...
Would love to see it--thanks for sharing! xoxo

Bella Q said...

I am so intrigued by the concept of this exhibit. Thank you for showing the images- it looks very interesting, Jill! Hope you're well!

Lucy said...

What an amazing exhibit. The CBGB bathroom re-creation was a stoke of genius.

Thanks for the fascinating images!

A N D Y S T Y L E said...

Great post, love it ;)

Katherine said...

I would love to see this exhibit one day - you did a great job taking us through it and really enjoyed the Margiela details :)

Anonymous said...

A great review Jill - thank you! I would love to see it. It looks like Mr Bolton did a fantastic job.

Jill said...

Thanks for all the kind comments ladies, this is an interesting show. True punks (or people who were at the time) may hate it, because punk was definitely NOT about couture clothing, but as much as I enjoy seeing couture up close (the workmanship! the detailing!), I can't help being charmed by this exhibit. It was also hugely helped by the Met hiring Sam Gainsbury and Guido Palau--who helped make the McQueen exhibit so gorgeously haunting. For those of you who can't see it, I will post more photos this summer! XO, Jill

Tamera Beardsley said...

Jill thank you so much for sharing this exhibit, and in such a quality manner!

triskelos said...

God, it's so beautiful! Thank you for sharing all of these gorgeous exibitions with us)