Monday, 17 June 2013

PUNK: Chaos to Couture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Until now I have only featured London exhibitions on the website, but having gained new American readers and with plenty of UK ones who travel there, I felt it was time to broaden the horizons. Punk: Chaos to Couture began at The Met just after I left New York, and I was frustrated to miss it because it looks like a great exhibition.

D.I.Y. Hardware Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Focusing on the relationship between punk and couture since its conception in the 70s, the exhibition features iconic garments alongside contemporary counterparts that have been influenced by the movement. It is organised thematically and divided into seven galleries, each one devoted to a particular aspect of punk and the ‘heroes’ who championed it.

The first space is dedicated to CBGB in New York (the renowned punk venue originally intended for country, bluegrass and blues), represented by Blondie, Richard Hall and Patti Smith. Another space is inspired by punk royalty Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood and their King’s Road boutique.

Facsimile of CBGB bathroom, New York, 1975 Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The DIY aesthetic that is so central to punk is also explored, with a gallery dedicated to D.I.Y. Hardware, focusing on couture’s use of studs, spikes chains, zippers, padlocks and safety pins and it’s icon Sid Vicious. Likewise D.I.Y. Destroy celebrates Johnny Rotten and punk’s ‘rip it to shreds’ spirit, via shredded garments associated with deconstructionism.

430 King’s Road Period Room Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Since its origins, punk has had an incendiary influence on fashion,” says Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute. “Although punk’s democracy stands in opposition to fashion’s autocracy, designers continue to appropriate punk’s aesthetic vocabulary to capture its youthful rebelliousness and aggressive forcefulness.”

A whole host of contemporary designers are featured, including Hussein Chalayan, John Galliano, Nicolas Ghesquière, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Rei Kawakubo, Helmut Lang, Malcolm McLaren, Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh, Zandra Rhodes, Yohji Yamamoto and Vivienne Westwood.

The Exhibition is described as ‘an immersive multimedia experience’, where the clothes are brought to life by the use of vintage videos and soundscaping audio techniques. It looks like a really unique tribute to one of music and fashion's most influential movements, so if you are in New York why not take a look!

Punk: Chaos to Couture is at The Metropolitan Museum of Art until 14 August

D.I.Y. Graffiti & Agitprop Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Clothes for Heroes Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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