leanor Foa Dienstag

Punk Never Dies

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The Costume Institute has done it again – fashioned an exhibition that is stunning, full of fun and glamour, and one that will undoubtedly be the hit of the summer. Plan to get to this show early because, for sure, it will be mobbed.

Punk’s impact on high fashion (as opposed to original “punk” clothes) from its birth in the 1970s to today is the focus of the show, which is why so much of it is not gritty but, in fact, pretty.

Beautiful “Punk” may be an oxymoron; after all, it was a bottom up, street rebellion against traditional notions of propriety. Or, as the Met Curator in the Costume Institute who conceived and organized this exhibition, Andrew Bolton, put it, “punk’s democracy stands in opposition to fashion’s autocracy.” But one comes away from this show thinking, wow, some of these clothes are not only imaginative and unique, but absolutely gorgeous. From flowing gowns made out of plastic garbage bags to slinky black dresses held together with safety pins, everyone will find something to enjoy and marvel at.

About 100 pieces of clothing, for men and women, are organized thematically into seven galleries, each of which features video footage of punk stars – or designated “heroes” — who personify the era and fashions on view.

BathroomFascimile of CBGB Bathroom

So we begin with a gallery focused on the American “establishment” of punk, CBGB, with its so-called “heroes” — Blondie , Richard Hell, The Ramones and Patti Smith –and the exhibition’s only in-your-face moment, a recreation of CBGBs bathroom, circa 1975.

SweatersSweaters, Junya Watanabe, fall/winter 2006-7

Next comes England’s Punk headquarters, a gallery inspired by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westood’s boutique, Seditionaries, on King’s Road in London, and between these two galleries, Clothes for Heroes. After that, we are treated to “Do-it-yourself” punk, an attribute that Bolton maintains is “punk’s enduring contribution to high fashion.” D.I.Y. Hardware fixates on couture’s incorporation of studs, spikes, chains, zippers, safety pins, and razor blades into high fashion. D.I.Y. Bricolage, focuses on the use of recycled materials from trash and consumer culture; D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop, exemplifies anti-establishment images and text; D.I.Y. Destroy, is all about Punk’s torn and shredded clothing.

There is every effort in this fashion-as-art exhibition, to incorporate scholarly research and reflection. Some will find it fascinating. But most of us, I believe, will simply enjoy the astonishingly diverse, provocative, sexy, glamorous clothes on view in an exhibition beautifully designed and produced, especially the head treatments and masks by Guido Pala.

Below are selected images from the exhibition, which I thoroughly enjoyed. You will, too.

King's Road Period Room

King's Road Period Room2

King’s Road Period Room

Hardware1D.I.Y. Hardware

Hardware2D.I.Y. Hardware

Hardware3D.I.Y. Hardware

Hardware4D.I.Y. Hardware

DIY Hardware10

D.I.Y. Hardware

D.I.Y. Hardware, Versace- Dress, Spring:Summer 1994D.I.Y. Hardware, Versace: Dress, Spring/Summer 1994

D.I.Y. Hardware- Zandra Rhodes, Wedding Dress, spring:summer, 1977;...D.I.Y. Hardware, Versace: Dress, Spring/Summer 1994

Zandra RhodesZandra Rhodes in Front of One of Her Gowns at the Press Preview

Zandra Rhodes and the BBCRhodes Being Interviewed by BBC America Reporter Laura Trevelyan

Eleanor Foa Dienstag 15 - Dress and Shawl of black plastic trash bags, House of Moschino, spring:summer 1994. L

 Dress and Shawl of Black Plastic Trash Bags, House of Moschino, Spring/Summer 1994

leanor Foa Dienstag 16 - Dress and Shawl of black plastic trash bags, House of Moschino, spring:summer 1994.

Dress and Shawl of Black Plastic Trash Bags, House of Moschino, Spring/Summer 1994

Dress, Black Plastic trash bag bodice with skirt of white plastic shopping bags, House of Moschino, spring:summer 1994.

Dress, Black Plastic Trash Bag Bodice with Skirt of White Plastic Shopping Bags, House of Moschino, Spring/Summer 1994

Eleanor Foa Dienstag 18 - Gareth Pugh, Gown and Stole of black plastic trash bags, autumn: winter, 2013:14

Gareth Pugh, Gown and Stole of Black Plastic Trash Bags, Autumn/Winter, 2013/14

Graffiti and AgitpropGraffiti and Agitprop

Graffiti and Agitprop2Graffiti and Agitprop

Graffiti and Agitprop3Graffiti and Agitprop

Zandra Rhodes DressD.I.Y. Hardware: Zandra Rhodes 

Zandra Rhodes Dress2D.I.Y. Hardware, Zandra Rhodes

Graffiti and Agitprop4D.I.Y.: Graffiti and Agitprop

D.I.Y. Destroy, Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, 2004:5D.I.Y. Destroy, Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, 2004/5

D.I.Y. Destroy, Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, 2004:5-2D.I.Y. Destroy, Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, 2004/5

D.I.Y. Destroy, Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, 2004:5-27D.I.Y. Destroy, Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, 2004/5

D.Y.I Destroy,

D.Y.I Destroy

D.Y.I Destroy 29D.Y.I Destroy

D.Y.I Destroy3D.I.Y. Destroy

Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel, Vogue, March 2011, by David SimsKarl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel, Vogue, March 2011, by David Sims

BillNew York Times Photographer Bill Cunningham

CuratorMet Curator, Andrew Bolton

PUNK: Chaos to Couture
Costume Institute Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 9 – August 14, 2013
Review and Photographs by Eleanor Foa Dienstag

 



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