Thursday, February 14, 2013

PUNK: CHAOS TO COUTURE at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel, Vogue/March 2011, Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by David Sims 

Add together trash bags, ripped jeans, slashed tops, holes and obscenity and you have the perfect formula for a horrific murder mystery... or maybe the The Metropolitan Museum's upcoming exhibit examining Punk's philosophical impact on fashion. An early morning press preview at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) Monday gives a glimpse into May's upcoming exhibit PUNK:Chaos to Couture. Keep reading for a closer look at what's to come...     

Mannequins with a sampling of what's to come and a podium against a backdrop of Johnny Rotten

An audience of fashion elite in the ranks of Anna Wintour (Editor of US Vogue), Laura Santo Domingo (Co-Founder of Moda Operandi), Hamish Bowles (Vogue International Editor at Large) and Riccardo Tisci (Creative Director of Givenchy) turn up bright and early to join the MET Muesum's Director, Thomas Campbell, and Costume Institute Curator, Andrew Bolton, in a demi-unveiling of the Constume Institute's next great endeavor. Somewhat of a sequel to the MET's 2006 AngloMania exhibition, PUNK: Chaos to Couture "takes a conceptual approach to the subject. Rather than thinking of punk as an attitude, it looks at Punk as an aesthetic," according to Bolton, "No other counter cultural movement has had a greater or more enduring influence on high fashion." 

Andrew Bolton relaying his thoughts on Punk and the inspiration behind the pieces included in the exhibit

Poised in front of a digitized freeze-frame of the Sex Pistol's Johnny Rotten, Bolton conceptualizes Punk and explores the themes and influences on fashion. Punk is dark, annihilistic,destructive and perpetualizes adolescence. Couture's exclusivity, emphasizing "made-to-measure" embraces the "anti-everything" mentality and rebellion central to punk. The courtship between the Do-It-Yourself of Punk is visually present in the mannequins clad in haute couture lining either side of the podium.

Versace Safety Pin Dress (1994), Givenchy Dress (2007-2008), Zandra Rhodes Tits T-Shirt (1977)

In Bolton's words, "Punk smashed every convention about sexual self-presention whether based on age sex or even race. It prides originality, authenticity and individualism and devised specific visual codes in order to rebel against cultural mainstream." Elements of punk can be seen in the materials, techniques and embellishments of couture--holes, tares, safety pins, pacifiers, repurposed garbage, nudity and darkness. 

Helmut Lang Fall/Winter (2003-2004), Photograph by Catwalking // Joe Strummer (1977), Photograph by Ray Stevenson/Rex USA

Over 100 garments and various photographs will be featured over 7 gallery spaces. Two galleries will be devoted to the origins of punk both the punk of London's 430 Kings Road and the punk of New York's CBGB's. Designers who extended the reach of punk in their creations will be featured in the Clothes for Heroes gallery and the final 4 spaces will focus on punk's Do-It-Yourself (DIY) influences on high fashion. 

Commes des Garcons (A/W 2004-05), Chanel (S/S 2011), Moschino (Spring/Summer 1994), Versace (1994), Givenchy (2007-08)

A press release from the MET best breaks down the DIY sections into:

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 Debbie Harry

D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop, exploring punk’s tradition of provocation and confrontation through images and text exemplified by The Clash

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

Maison Martin Margiela (S/S 2011) Photograph © Nathalie Sanchez // Gary Wilson (1977), Photograph © Roberta Bayley
Images courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

With a few recent successes and high profile corporate backers, the exhibit has high heels to fill. Punk: Chaos to Couture opens to the public May 9 following the annual MET Gala hosted by Rooney Mara and Riccardo Tisci on May 6. Studs, Razors, Straps and abstraction--Are you ready to Rock?!

Couture-clad mannequins

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