Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

An exhibition charting punk's influence on high fashion has opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this week. Above: Chanel by David Sims, 2011.

Aiming to examine the relationship between 1970s anarchic subculture and fashion design today, vintage punk outfits are shown alongside contemporary clothing by brands such as Alexander McQueenMartin Margiela and Karl Lagerfeld.

Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Rodarte by David Sims, 2008

"Since its origins, punk has had an incendiary influence on fashion," said Andrew Bolton, curator in The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "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," he said.

Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Comme des Garçons by Peter Lindbergh, 1982

Approximately 100 garments for both sexes are displayed across seven galleries, each with a different theme.

One room is based on iconic Manhattan music bar CBGB, represented by bands such as Blondie and the Ramones, while the space opposite takes reference from Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Seditionaries boutique at 430 King’s Road in London.

Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Hussein Chalayan by Eric Nehr

Located in the museum's second-floor Cantor galleries, Punk: Chaos to Couture opened earlier this week and runs until 14 August 2013.

More fashion exhibitions currently on show include a collection of David Bowie Is costume, set and album cover design at London's V&A museum and a range of fetishistic prosthetics, also in the British capital.

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Read the full press release from the museum below:

Punk Fashion Is Focus of Costume Institute Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: 9 May – 14 August 2013
Exhibition location: Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall

PUNK: Chaos to Couture, organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, examines punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the 1970s through its continuing influence today. The exhibition is on view from 9 May through 14 August at the Museum.

Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
John Lydon by Richard Young, 1975

The Exhibition

The exhibition, in the Museum’s second-floor Cantor galleries, features approximately 100 designs for men and women. A few iconic punk garments from the mid-1970s are juxtaposed with recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear have borrowed punk’s visual symbols, with paillettes being replaced with safety pins, feathers with razor blades, and bugle beads with studs. Focusing on the relationship between the punk concept of 'do-it-yourself' and the couture concept of 'made to measure,' the exhibition is organised around the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style. Presented as an immersive multimedia experience, the clothes are animated with vintage videos and soundscaping audio techniques.

Organized thematically, each of the seven galleries has footage of designated punk ‘heroes’ who embody the broader concepts behind the fashions on view. The first gallery is devoted to CBGB in New York City, represented by Blondie, Richard Hell, The Ramones, and Patti Smith. Opposite is a gallery inspired by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Seditionaries boutique at 430 King’s Road in London, and between the two is Clothes for Heroes, embodied by a slow motion video of Jordan. This gallery examines designers who extend the visual language of punk, as it was originally articulated by McLaren and Westwood, by merging social realism with artistic expression.

Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sid Vicious by Dennis Morris, 1977

Do-it-yourself, punk’s enduring contribution to high fashion, is explored in the four final galleries: 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 Wayne County; D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop, exploring punk’s tradition of provocation and confrontation through images and text exemplified by The Clash; and 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.

Designers in the exhibition include Miguel Adrover, Thom Browne, Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Hussein Chalayan, Francisco Costa (Calvin Klein), Christophe Decarnin (Balmain), Ann Demeulemeester, Dior, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (Dolce and Gabbana), John Galliano, Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga), Katharine Hamnett, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Christopher Kane, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, Malcolm McLaren, Alexander McQueen, Franco Moschino and Rossella Jardini (Moschino), Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte), Miuccia Prada, Gareth Pugh, Zandra Rhodes, Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent), Stephen Sprouse, Jun Takahashi (Undercover), Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy), Gianni Versace, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, and Vivienne Westwood.

Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Jordan, 1977

The exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator, in the Met’s Costume Institute. Photographer Nick Knight is the exhibition’s creative consultant working with exhibition design consultant Sam Gainsbury (who was creative director for the Met’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition in 2011) and production designer Gideon Ponte (a set and production designer for photo shoots and feature films including Buffalo 66 and American Psycho). All mannequin head treatments and masks are designed by Guido Palau, who also created treatments for Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and last year’s Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.

The design for the 2013 Costume Institute gala benefit is created by Nick Knight, Sam Gainsbury, and Gideon Ponte with Raul Avila, who has produced the benefit décor since 2007. Additional funding for the gala benefit is provided by Givenchy.

Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Richard Hell by Kate Simon, late 1970s

Related Catalogue and Programs

A book, Punk: Chaos to Couture, by Andrew Bolton, with an introduction by Jon Savage, and prefaces by Richard Hell and John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), accompanies the exhibition. This publication is illustrated with photographs of vintage punks and high fashion. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the $45 catalogue (hard cover only) is distributed worldwide by Yale University Press.

A series of programs will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition, including a Sunday at the Met discussion on the origins of punk with Glenn O'Brien, Jon Savage, and Roberta Bayley on June 16; a gallery conversation with Vivien Goldman and Curator Ian Alteveer on July 26; and performances by Liars on May 18; and by So Percussion as wellas Man Forever on June 8; a studio workshop on July 20; and related gallery talks in the Museum’s permanent collection.

  • Karl MacRae

    How depressing is it that Vivienne Westwood was snubbed at this event for doing what she perceived as the embodiment of punk: telling the truth.

  • Really want to go there!

  • Randy F

    Haha. And to be frank, it’s Dame Viv who invented the whole thing.