Punk: Chaos to Couture is the name of the exhibition organized by The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in collaboration with Moda Operandi, and additional support from Conde Nast.
DIY GRAFFITI & AGITPROP.
The exhibit examines the influence of the punk movement in the world of high fashion, from its birth in the 1970s to the continued usage of punk’s symbolism in today’s fashion vocabulary. A display of approximately 100 garments for men and women illustrates the evolution of its iconography (safety pins, studs, knives, hardware and zippers) in haute couture.
“Since its origins, punk has had an incendiary influence on fashion”, said Andrew Bolton, curator of The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum. This exhibit places punk as the heir of previous and contemporary art movements such as Dadaism and postmodernism. Some critics have expressed that this exhibition doesn’t measure up to the 2011 homage to Alexander McQueen, but outperforms last year’s Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, both organized by the Costume Institute.
Facsimile of CBGB bathroom.
The display follows a clear stylistic narrative, and spreads through seven galleries on the second floor. Organized thematically, each gallery has a designated punk hero that embodies the fashions on view. It opens with a graffiti laden facsimile of the unisex bathroom of CBGB, the club where the Ramones, considered by many the first punk band, and other anti establishment luminaries, like Blondie, Richard Hell and Patti Smith, had their origin.
The vintage designs of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren from the 1970s are juxtaposed with more recent creations from Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe, Christopher Bailey for Burberry, Rodarte, Balmain, and Viktor & Rolf.
The display continues with a series of DIY rooms that attempt to combine punk’s do-it-yourself aesthetics with haute couture’s made-to-order paradigm. “DIY: Hardware”, “DIY: Bricolage”, “DIY: Graffiti and Agitprop”, and “DIY: Destroy” present designs from a variety of couture labels, like Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Stephen Sprouse, Miguel Adrover, Galliano, Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, Moschino, Prada, Versace, Balmain, Comme des Garcons and Yves Saint Laurent, among others.
Andrew Bolton’s monograph Punk: Chaos to Couture accompanies the exhibition, which will remain on view until August 14, 2013. ■