A spectacular new exhibition titled Punk: Chaos to Couture opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this week. It is predicted to be the biggest blockbuster to emerge since their highly successful Alexander McQueen exhibition in 2011.
This show, also curated by Andrew Bolton (see photo) follows Punk from its birth in the Bowery in New York to its transatlantic crossing to the Kings Road in London.
“Punk’s signature mixing of references was fueled by artistic developments such as Dada and postmodernism,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “so it makes sense to present this exhibition in a museum that also shows the broader output of those movements. Indeed, that dialogue between art and fashion is what makes The Costume Institute so singular. Projects like this don’t happen without sponsorship, and we greatly appreciate the generosity of Moda Operandi, and its co-founders Aslaug Magnusdottir and Lauren Santo Domingo.”
The exhibition, in the Museum’s second-floor Cantor galleries, will feature approximately 100 designs for men and women. Original punk garments from the mid-1970s will be juxtaposed with recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear have borrowed punk’s visual symbols, with paillettes being replaced with safety pins, feathers with razor blades, and bugle beads with studs. Focusing on the relationship between the punk concept of ‘do-it-yourself’ and the couture concept of ‘made-to-measure,’ the exhibition will be organized around the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style. Presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience, the clothes will be animated with period music videos and soundscaping audio techniques.
Organized thematically, each of the seven galleries will have designated punk ‘heroes’ who embody the broader concepts behind the fashions on view. The first gallery will be devoted to CBGB in New York City, represented by Blondie, Richard Hell, The Ramones, and Patti Smith. Next will be a gallery inspired by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood and their ‘Seditionaries/Sex Shop’ boutique at 430 King’s Road in London. The Clothes for Heroes gallery, embodied by Jordan, will examine designers who extend the visual language of punk, as it was originally articulated by McLaren and Westwood, by merging social realism with artistic expression.
Do-it-yourself, punk’s enduring contribution to high fashion, will be explored in the four final galleries: D.I.Y. Hardware, focusing on couture’s use of studs, spikes, chains, zippers, padlocks, safety pins, and razor blades, with Sid Vicious as its icon; D.I.Y. Bricolage, highlighting the impact of punk’s ethos of customization on high fashion, including the use of recycled materials from trash and consumer culture, as epitomized by Wayne County; D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop, exploring punk’s tradition of provocation and confrontation through images and text exemplified by The Clash; and D.I.Y. Destroy, examining the effect of punk’s rip-it-to-shreds spirit, typified by Johnny Rotten, via torn and shredded garments associated with deconstructionism.
Designers in the exhibition will include Miguel Adrover, Thom Browne, Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Hussein Chalayan, Francisco Costa (Calvin Klein), Christophe Decarnin (Balmain), Ann Demeulemeester, Dior, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (Dolce and Gabbana), John Galliano, Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga), Katharine Hamnett, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Christopher Kane, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, Malcolm McLaren, Alexander McQueen, Franco Moschino and Rossella Jardini (Moschino), Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte), Miuccia Prada, Gareth Pugh, Zandra Rhodes, Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent), Stephen Sprouse, Jun Takahashi (Undercover), Joseph Thimister, Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy), Gianni Versace, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, and Vivienne Westwood.
If you cant make the trip across the pond to see this remarkable survey exhibition of Punk fashion, British journalist Jon Savage has written the introduction essays for the hardcover $45 glossy coffee table book which will no doubt, become a collectors item!