To create the look of the Zebra Punk Party Dress (which was part of her Spring 2007 Punk collection), Anna Sui combined ripped mesh leggings and armlets, references to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Mclaren’s punk fashions of the mid-to-late 1970s. The monochrome zebra print recalls the strict dress color code of the New York clubs that Sui frequented in her youth, such as Max’s Kansas City and CBGB.
Zebra Punk Party Dress is made from Silk chiffon with a nylon petticoat, leggings and sleeves; worn with brass/glass/plastic bracelet by Erickson Beamon for Anna Sui; cowhide boots by Ballin for Anna Sui.
Photographed in the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan.
“Photography Not Allowed” (All Stealth Photos By Gail)
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.
Recreation of Vivienne Westwood’s Punk Rock Boutique, Sex
Vintage Punk T Shirts
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.
The Punk Aesthetic Begins its Influence on Haute Couture
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!
Miniature Vinyl Platform Shoes Based on a Design By Vivienne Westwood
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!
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.
Killing Joke, Gang of Four, Bauhaus, Et Al (This Photo by Geoffrey Dicker)
Walking into the Steven Kasher Gallery last night for the opening reception of Rude And Reckless was very much like flashing back to my teenage bedroom, whose walls were plastered floor to ceiling with Punk Rock posters, show flyers, stickers and album cover art until I moved out of my parents house to go to college. Punk Rock – at a time when Punk Rock was really something vital and alive – was everything to me at that time, and I was an avid collector of 7” Punk singles (which I’d pick up by the dozens at Zed Records in Long Beach, California) and punk/new wave badges. A lot of what I collected, and probably still have, seems to have been magically curated into this amazing collection of memorabilia that is sure to delight anyone who has fond memories of the British, New York or LA/Orange County punk scenes in the late ‘70s to early ‘80s. Good times.
Poly Styrene X-Ray Spex, Oh Bondage Up Yours!, 1977
Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-82 is the first New York exhibition surveying the extraordinary diversity of Punk and Post-Punk graphic design. The exhibition showcases a wide range of American and British artistry, with influences that include the Bauhaus, Futurism, Dadaism, Pop Art, Constructivism and Expressionism. The exhibition features over 200 rare posters, along with fanzines, flyers, clothing, badges and stickers.
Rude and Reckless documents an era that produced a great burst of applied graphic-design creativity, one of the most subversive of the 20th Century. Vivid, violent and frequently acid-tongued, the works in this exhibit represent one of the truly authentic DIY youth culture movements of the Western World. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Punk Rock; both the release of the first Ramones album, and the mythical (and notorious) Anarchy in the UK Tour were seminal punk events in 1976. The exhibition is based on the collection Andrew Krivine, who began collecting in 1977. Curated by Krivine and Steven Kasher, the selection comprises the rarest and finest examples culled from an archive of more than 800 punk/new wave/post-punk posters and ephemera.
It’s no secret to anyone born prior to 1980 that the best years – the truly Golden years – of Rock music are now decades behind us. By the “best” years, of course, I’m talking about the 1970s. Some of us were lucky enough to live through this truly magical decade that, when speaking of Rock music, came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. Think about it, the 70s embodied a sonic revolution like no other: ushered in softly by the final days of The Beatles – the band that invented everything – and ushered out by the glorious cacophony that was first wave British Punk Rock – a movement that’s influenced countless pop music genres that have arrived in its wake. From the Beatles to Punk Rock; there arguably is no decade that has had a greater impact than the 1970s, historically and influentially, on any modern music that is worth listening to.
The Seventies live on for music fans of a younger generation because so much of that music is archived and still available to anyone with an iTunes account. But just hearing the music isn’t the same as being privy to the rich and exotic history behind the people who made those songs come alive. That is why we must be grateful for rock journalists like Nick Kent, a rock critic and avid fan, who was at ground zero for almost everything noteworthy that happened musically between the years of 1970 and 1980, for having captured his experiences living the rock and roll dream, and its nightmare flipside, in his recent memoir entitled Apathy For The Devil(Da Capo Press). I’ve read a ton of music bios and memoirs on the Seventies and, seriously, this is best book on the subject that I’ve come across.
Just how great is Apathy for The Devil? Well, I would venture that it’s an even more satisfying read than Bob Greene’s long-out-of-print gem Billion Dollar Baby, that writer’s inside account of going on the road with the original band called Alice Cooper – and that is lofty praise indeed, because that book is just insane. As a writer for England’s NME magazine, a first-hand participant in and keen observer of so much of rock’s from-the-gutter-to-the-good-life history, Kent’s memoir is both entertaining and edifying. I mean, the guy knew, met, interviewed and wrote about everyone: Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, The Who – everyone. Certainly too many bands and artists to name and keep this review under 5,000 words. And the war stories he’s brought back from his close encounters will knock your socks off. I love this book!
Divided into nine chapters, one for each year, with 1978 and 1979 combined into one entry, Apathy For The Devil is quite a roller coaster ride, and at the end of the ride you may find many of your previously held opinions enriched or changed flat out. For example, the chapter entitled “1973”, in which he elucidates his understanding of the inner workings of The Rolling Stones and his assessment of just how Mick Jagger’s mind works, piqued my interest and enthusiasm for that band in a way that 40 years of their recorded music had been unable to do. Apathy For The Devil is, in Kent’s own words, about “surreal people living surreal, action-packed lives.” And although he was talking about rock stars when he wrote that, what you come to realize as you flip through page after page of vivid, fearless, darkly humorous and wickedly compelling prose, is that he is also talking about himself.
In the florid pages of Apathy For The Devil, we learn not only every gloriously gritty detail about Kent’s intimate personal history during ten years spent writing about every band that mattered, but also amazing details about the personal histories of dozens rock stars and music industry luminaries that are now household names; from the aforementioned legends like David Bowie and Mick Jagger to Chrissie Hynde (who was Kent’s girlfriend in her pre–Pretenders years) and the notorious, Punk Rock Svengali Malcolm McLaren, who had never even heard of Jimi Hendrix before he met Kent. As if the insider stories of Rock’s most decadent decade weren’t enough, the author also shares his decent into and recovery from heroin addiction in riveting detail. So, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, it’s all here in a book that’s amazingly well-written and so much fun you won’t be able to put it down.
For Rocking hard enough to Crack a Skull, The Worley Gig gives Apathy For The Devil Five out of Five Stars.
Here is a statement from Sex Pistols’ guitarist Steve Jones about Malcolm McLaren, who passed away on April 8th at age 64 from cancer.
“I was upset when I heard the news, as I’ve always had a soft spot for Malcolm. I knew him since I was 17 before The Pistols formed — I used to drive him around in Vivienne Westwood’s car to the tailors in London in the days of the Let It Rock clothing store. Malcolm was definitely the Brian Epstein of punk — without him it wouldn’t have happened the way it did. I stayed friends with him throughout the years despite some of our differences. He came on Jonesy’s Jukebox a couple of years ago, and that’s a good memory. But my fondest memory of Malcolm, and I loved the guy, was his birthday gift to me when I turned 21 — he got me a hooker and some heroin.”