Prim girl goes Punk; Chaos to Couture in NYC

METBeing a girl who adores fashion exhibitions, and being a girl who was just recently in New York City, it must come as no surprise that, whilst in Manhattan, I headed straight off to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to take a look at the current Costume Institute exhibition; Punk: Chaos to Couture. Concieved and curated by the British Andrew Bolton and designed by Sam Gainsburg, this exhibition was a real delight. Having had some critiscm for not representing the gritty, agressive, druggy and anti-establisment culture of punk, Bolton has instead curated an exhibition of fashion through the years which pays tribute to and embraces the ethos of punk and its visual language. He deliberately didn’t want to do a nostalgic retrospective on punk,  “I don’t want this to be a trip down memory lane”, I think by making that choice he has provided us with a really fresh take on the genre and its enduring influence on high fashion. The exhibition has done exactly what it set out to do, it is a fashion exhibition and not a look at music, politics or the subculture of punk itself.

This exhibition is a feast for the eyes, no glass boxes, no stuffy layout, all the clothes were in the open and perfectly grouped in each gallery, some gallerys were light and modern with a clean monotone pallette while others were dark and loud and multicoloured. Each gallery was totally different from the last and each was stunning. The exhibition looked at the origins of Punk in the 70’s, covering both London and NYC, with cute mock-ups of seedy club toilets and the Vivienne Westwwood Sex shop. It then covered all aesthetic influences of punk with galleries each dedicated to a theme; DIY Hardware, Bricolage, Graffiti & Agitpop, and Destroy. Some of the clothes were beautiful, some were a little experimental, but stunning in their creations none the less. It was great that there was really recent fashion there as well as some older pieces, original Westwood items from the era alongside a 2010 Punk inspired Moschino dress. The clash between the creaftmanship of couture and the ameturism of real DIY punk clothing was both subtle but deliberate, as Bolton himself said, both stem from spontaniety and individuality, therefore embracing the punk ideal. The styling of the mannequins was great, very strong with matching wigs of exaggerated spiked and coloured hair. The lighting in each space was theatrical perfection. I loved this exhibition, I saw fashions that I adored and I saw styling that was humourous and well thought out, the fact it was in my favourite museum in my favourite city on a balmy hot day made it all the more super. I’d recommend this to people who love fashion, if you were an original punk and looking for a representation of the era and all its anarchy then you won’t find it here, this is about fashion and the influence punk has on it; its a pretty kind of punk. Pretty cool.

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  1. Christopher Bailey for Burberry S/S 2013
  2. Original Westwood/McLaren Seditionaries T-shirts
  3. amazing studded skirt from Too fast To Live, Too Young To Die, 1972
  4. general exhibition view
  5. black dress on the left by Versace S/S 1994 (famously worn by Liz Hurley)
  6. black bin bag dress by House of Moschino S/S 1994
  7. outfit of pearls by Maison Martin Margiela  S/S 2006
  8. plastic bag dress on far right by House of Moschino S/S 1994
  9. general view including Katherine Hamnett slogan T-shirts
  10. spray painted Alexander McQueen S/S 1999
  11. general exhibition view
  12. dress by Miguel Androver 2000
  13. the final mannequin gives the finger

Punk: Chaos to Couture is at The Met until 14th August 2013

Fizzy, Bang, POP!

I merrily swooshed down to my most favourite place, the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey for the opening day of their new exhibition POP!

I adore this place, it’s a great size and it has a really genuine, informal vibe. This latest exhibition has been curated to perfection by Dennis Nothdruft, of the Fashion and Textile Museum, with guest curators Richard Chamberlain and Geoffrey Rayner of Target Gallery. The exhibition takes a good look at the way music, art and celebrities from the late 1940’s to the late 1970’s influenced fashion, as well as attitudes, ideals and desires. It takes us from the glee of Rock ‘n’ Roll through to anarchic Punk Rock, via, Mod, Psychedelia, and Kitsch. As usual with this lovely place, the exhibition is a visual delight! It’s been displayed so beautifully and precisely, the sleek Mods, the black and white of Quant, the neons of the Psychedelic; it’s glorious to say the least.

Skirt fabric for Elvis fans, 1956.

Men’s Slicker jacket, 1957.

Martini label skirt, 1956.

I love this Martini skirt, which demonstrates the early use of commercial advertising as a decorative form, it’s gooorgeous! The exhibition has fashion and home wares from each era as well as some cute quirky pieces of consumer goodies.

Potato Sack dress, C.1960.

This sack dress is ace, a witty satire of Pierre Cardin’s radical Sac dress from the 50’s, implying that anything can be turned into fashion.

Part of the exhibition….

Mary Quant dress, 1961.

Part of the exhibition showing monochrome Mary Quant

My favourite bit was the late 60’s, early 70’s kitsch and cartoony part of the exhibition, great to see some prints from Zandra Rhodes in there too!

A pair of shorts by Sylvia Ayton, 1967, using Zandra Rhodes ‘Lipstick’ fabric

Wedge shoes and belt by Mr Freedom, 1970.

Cruise Dress by Sportaville, 1969.

Terry De Havilland snakeskin platform peep-toe shoes, 1971.

Fiorucci ‘Cherries’ platform sandals, 1971.

This Pop! exhibition sure does make your eyes pop, it’s so startlingly colourful and effervescent, and translates magically the potent influence that modern popular culture had on the designs of fashion. So much to look at, loads of classic iconic pieces to gaze at as well as loads of cute unusual discoveries too, pop along and give your eyes a feast!

Pop! is on until 27th October 2012