The Metropolitan Museum of Art is slightly loosening up its tie with their latest Costume Institute exhibition “PUNK: Chaos to Couture,” which opens Thursday and is on view through August 14.
“Punk began as an impulse, as a feeling,” curator Andrew Bolton said during a press preview this morning. And it was Television’s Richard Hell that first had the spontaneous impulse, in the mid-’70s, to shred his T-shirt, holding it together with safety pins, spike his hair, ultimately influencing the Sex Pistols, and introducing punk wear to the world.
The exhibition examines punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the 1970s — represented by Blondie, Hell, The Ramones, Patti Smith and a replica of CBGBs gritty, bathroom stalls — through its continuing influence today featuring approximately 100 designs for men and women.
The show pairs up the DIY styles of these punk rockers with luxury brands that inspired designers like Ann Demeulemeester, Thom Browne, John Galliano, Rodarte, Miuccia Prada, among others. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood have their own gallery, “devoted to their famous Seditionaries boutique”, and another called “DIY hardware,” that “explore the creative uses of spikes, studs, zippers, and chains.”
Although this glammed-up, unattainable, punk fashion exhibit is the antithesis of the punk mentality, and definitely not what Hell had in mind back when he was ripping up his shirts, this is as close as the Met’s Costume Institute, and its chairwoman Anna Wintour, will ever get to trashy punk rock.