Punk: Chaos to couture at the Metropolitan Museum in New York

On May 9th the exhibition Punk: Chaos to couture will be open to the public at the Metropolitan Museum for Art in New York.

Photo by David Sims
The Met's spring 2013 Costume Institute exhibition is examining punk's impact on high fashion from the movement's birth in the early 1970s through its continuing influence today. Featuring approximately one hundred designs for men and women, the exhibition is including original punk garments and recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear borrow punk's visual symbols.
Focusing on the relationship between the punk concept of "do-it-yourself" and the couture concept of "made-to-measure," the seven galleries are organized around the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style.
Themes include New York and London, which tell punk's origin story as a tale of two cities, followed by Clothes for Heroes and four manifestations of the D.I.Y. aesthetic Hardware, Bricolage, Graffiti and Agitprop, and Destroy.

Photo by David Sims

Shaky video clips of Sid Vicious and other rockers play on giant screens. The air fills with snippets of music and pearls of wisdom from punk's gurus. There's even a life-size replica of the bathroom at the famed Manhattan nightclub CBGB, circa 1975. The room comes complete with the Ramones on the loudspeakers, "DEAD BOYS RULE" graffiti, and cigarette butts on the floor - something you'll never see in New York's smoke-free clubs today.
The authentic smell and, of course, the people are absent: they wouldn't fit in at the Met, even if they were allowed past the door. "Chaos to couture" isn't about gritty, revolutionary punk. It's about pretty punk, about how a nihilistic subculture died, then came back to life as a catwalk fashion show.

The exhibit argues that punks' love of low-cost, imprompt fashion statements - like a rip in a T-shirt, or a toilet chain as jewelry - was in tune with the way modern designers work.

Mannequin after mannequin appears in the Met galleries wearing high-end, punk-inspired clothes. A Versace evening dress from the spring/summer collection of 1994 sports huge safety pins.
A chain-draped Balenciaga mini dress from autumn/winter of 2004 can be found near a pink silk chiffon Givenchy dress with gold zips from spring/summer 2011.
The scene seems a far cry from the soundtrack to the exhibit where visitors are treated to the likes of the Sex Pistols band musing in the need to "shock people" and to be "obscene and pointless as possible."

Photos by Betty Sze for Models.com

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, AFP, models.com
Punk: Chaos to couture at the Metropolitan Museum in New York Punk: Chaos to couture at the Metropolitan Museum in New York Reviewed by Patricia Munster on 1:57:00 AM Rating: 5

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