“PUNK: Chaos to Couture”: The Met unveils its 2013 spring exhibit

Prepare for anarchy in NYC as the Met’s Costume Institute makes another daring debut with "PUNK: Chaos to Couture."

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  • Photograph: Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Karl Lagerfeld’s shredded-chic ensemble for Chanel (Spring/Summer 2011) is on display in the D.I.Y. Destroy gallery, which features a variety of ripped haute couture garments inspired by the torn duds of Richard Hell and the “barely there” white tees worn by Sex Pistols band member Sid Vicious, above.

  • Photograph: David Sims

    Karl Lagerfeld’s shredded-chic ensemble for Chanel (Spring/Summer 2011) is on display in the D.I.Y. Destroy gallery, which features a variety of ripped haute couture garments inspired by the torn duds of Richard Hell and the “barely there” white tees worn by Sex Pistols band member Sid Vicious, above.

  • Photograph: © Roberta Bayley/courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The D.I.Y. Bricolage gallery highlights the punk penchant for dressing in whatever happened to be lying around, including recycled materials and trash, as demonstrated here by new-wave musician and artist Gary Wilson. On display is Maison Martin Margiela’s Spring/Summer 2011 frock, a daring swath of iridescent cellophane.

  • Photograph: © Nathalie Sanchez for Maison Martin Margiela/courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The D.I.Y. Bricolage gallery highlights the punk penchant for dressing in whatever happened to be lying around, including recycled materials and trash, as demonstrated here by new-wave musician and artist Gary Wilson. On display is Maison Martin Margiela’s Spring/Summer 2011 frock, a daring swath of iridescent cellophane.

  • Photograph: Ray Stevenson/Rex USA

    D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop pays tribute to London legends the Clash. Spray-painted shirts were all the rage in punk’s heyday, as seen in Joe Strummer’s “1977” button-up, which was replicated in Helmut Lang’s Fall 2003/Winter 2004 collection.

  • Photograph: Catwalking/courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    D.I.Y. Graffiti and Agitprop pays tribute to London legends the Clash. Spray-painted shirts were all the rage in punk’s heyday, as seen in Joe Strummer’s “1977” button-up, which was replicated in Helmut Lang’s Fall 2003/Winter 2004 collection.

  • Photograph: Ray Stevenson / Rex USA

    Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten’s safety-pinned jacket is a clear precursor of frocks created for Versace’s Spring/Summer 1994 collection, which included pieces strategically held together by gold closures.

  • Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art/© Satoshi Saïkusa

    Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten’s safety-pinned jacket is a clear precursor of frocks created for Versace’s Spring/Summer 1994 collection, which included pieces strategically held together by gold closures.

  • Photograph: Richard Young/Rex USA

    Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten’s safety-pinned jacket is a clear precursor of frocks created for Versace’s Spring/Summer 1994 collection, which included pieces strategically held together by gold closures.

Photograph: Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Karl Lagerfeld’s shredded-chic ensemble for Chanel (Spring/Summer 2011) is on display in the D.I.Y. Destroy gallery, which features a variety of ripped haute couture garments inspired by the torn duds of Richard Hell and the “barely there” white tees worn by Sex Pistols band member Sid Vicious, above.

In the museum world, spring is a time of high anticipation: It’s when the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils its annual fashion exhibit. On display beginning Thursday 9, “PUNK” is the latest show from inventive Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton, whose 2011 blockbuster,“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” was one of the most successful in the Met’s history. (It pulled in around 660,000 visitors, many of whom spent hours waiting in lines that wound around the museum.) This year’s collection features some 100 garments, juxtaposing original punk threads from the mid-’70s with their high-fashion and prêt-à-porter counterparts, designed by the likes of Dior, Versace and Helmut Lang. The overt irony here—that items representing a genre that eschewed capitalism (consider the Dils track “I Hate the Rich”) will be displayed alongside big-name brands—will likely prompt die-hard punk fans to flip the bird. But for the rest of us, the exhibition should provide an excellent opportunity to explore the inflammatory subculture’s impact on haute couture.


The garments are displayed in seven galleries, each organized around a theme and represented by a punk icon; the rooms will also feature video and audio installations. Some cover important hubs of the explosive musical movement: One is dedicated to famed Bowery club CBGB, where bands like Television, the Ramones and Blondie played; another transports viewers to 430 Kings Road in London, where Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren sewed original garments for the Sex Pistols in their SEX boutique (later renamed Seditionaries). Other rooms focus on punk’s do-it-yourself aesthetic, whereby original techniques—such as drawing on a T-shirt with a black marker or fastening a rip with safety pins—continue to be mirrored by labels such as Givenchy, Zandra Rhodes and Rodarte. The D.I.Y. Hardware gallery, for instance, which is represented by late provocateur Sid Vicious, looks at the frequent use of studs, chains, razor blades and a host of other items guaranteed to cause trouble at airport security. One well-known example: Gianni Versace’s revealing safety-pin dress, worn by a voluptuous Liz Hurley, above, in 1994.


No doubt there’s plenty to see here, and an exhibition packing this much punk power is certain to draw crowds. The Met staff has pledged to do what they can to keep long lines at bay. But when punk is paired with Prada, all bets are off.


“PUNK: Chaos to Couture”: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, metmuseum.org/punk). Thu 9–Aug 14; see Museums, page 28, for hours and prices.



Users say

3 comments
FAIZAN
FAIZAN

An insipid depiction of a vital NY/LDN subculture. With the most exhilerating elements known to humankind. The Met has achieved the impossible: it's made punk BORING.

danny
danny

boring...and I love punk

Sid
Sid

What a joke, don't waste your time.