Thanks to a special allowance for the Memorial Day Holiday, The Met ended up being open on Monday and Geoffrey and I were able to head to the scenic upper west side on a very gorgeous, sunny day to check out the much ballyhooed fashion exhibit, Punk: Chaos to Couture. Photography is not allowed in the exhibit, which is a huge drag, but I was able to sneak in a few “stealth snaps” while the vigilant Art Nazis were distracted by other things, so please excuse the poor quality of my shots for this post as I was shooting in the dark with no flash! Punk Rock!
The exhibit starts out with examples of actual DIY fashions worn by the original British punks of the late 1970s. These hand fashioned outfits then inspired pioneering designer Vivienne Westood and her business partner, Malcolm McLaren, to open the clothing shop, SEX, where they sold early versions of bondage trousers, Band T Shirts and other punk gear.
It is important to understand — and this cannot be emphasized strongly enough — that the phrase “Punk Fashion” is a bit of an oxymoron, as the early Punks were not interested in following or copying any kind of fashion, but rather were doing something completely original using clothes already found in their own closets.
Like 2011’s Savage Beauty, which showcased the genius of the late designer Alexander McQueen, Chaos to Couture maintains a reverance to the Wearable Art status of these clothes and thus is expertly laid out via a series of connected galleries that often recreate the look of downtown clubs and alleyways where the original punk fashion aesthetic was born. The rear walls of most of these galleries are illuminated by video projections of the classic punk bands performing and I enjoyed hearing some of my favorite punk music of that era by great bands like The Buzzcocks and The Damned, which helped to authenticate the sensorial experience.
As the exhibit segues gradually into runway designs by fashion houses such as Comme De Garcon, Dolce & Gabbana and Moschino (among many others), it becomes a bit more ridiculous that they are trying to maintain any kind of tenuous relationship to the Punk Rock movement, but the clothes are nevertheless fun to look at.
Still, paying $5,000 for a pair of shredded jeans because it has a designer label is not punk, it is just pathetic.
Be sure to also check out the exhibit gift shop, where you can see an exhibit based on a working class-founded movement that embraced the DIY ethic celebrated with overpriced, factory made souvenirs!
Two different people admonished me about taking this photo, even in the gift shop (!), so you can be assured that I made certain to get the above shot! As the punks would say, Fuck Off!
This pink safety-pin studded clutch purse — that you could make for about $10 — sells in the gift shop for $1500! Not a typo!
Punk: Chaos to Couture Runs Through August 14th, 2013 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Located at 1000 Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street.