“Punk is musical freedom. It’s saying, doing, and playing what you want.” – Kurt Cobain
I’m pretty sure it’s fate that I’m in New York this summer – I think I would’ve died if I had missed the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibit. Where do I even begin?
As a firm believer that “punk” is bigger than music, than fashion – truly an attitude and a lifestyle – the Met couldn’t have conveyed punk’s far reach better.
The exhibit presented punk as a sort of “tale of two cities”, a lifestyle that overtook both New York City and London in the 1970s. And though designs by everyone from Junya Watanabe and Vivienne Westwood to Dolce & Gabbana and Versace were the main focus, the way the rooms were set up made it all feel authentic, as if you had boarded a time travel machine to a much more carefree, “fuck you” kind of era. Music, video, and even a recreation of the CBGB bathroom revived punk in the city, and proved that this lifestyle is far from over.
What I loved most about “Chaos to Couture” was how they featured so many “D.I.Y.” looks – safety pins, rips, trash bags, you name it. And, of course, a quote by Sid Vicious was on the wall about how the D.I.Y. thing came about. Though it’s considered chic now, it all started because a bunch of poor punks couldn’t afford to get new clothes.
As a music and punk culture enthusiast, I did find it a little hilarious picturing artists like Sid Vicious seeing this exhibit. He’d probably walk through, spitting on the clothes while taking a drag off his cigarette. But what was I supposed to do, not go? Yeah, right.
– All images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art –