"Punk: Chaos To Couture" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art traces the punk aesthetic and its influence on high fashion. The exhibition is replete with multimedia representations from punk's two former centers, New York and London. There are videos of punk performances; a recreation of the London shop "Seditionaries," owned by designers Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, and a recreation of the New York punk club CBGB's notoriously grungy and graffiti-laden bathroom. The fashion items most representative of punk culture are Westwood and McLaren's T-shirts, with political and sexual statements and images designed to shock. Following this look at the early days, the show surveys punk's influence on current couture–and here its message becomes muddled. Viewers examine dresses festooned with safety pins, rips, spikes, studs, chains, splatters of paint and, at times, political statements. These designs are created by the most prominent names in fashion. It's clear that, despite the museum's signage stating that the designers are revolutionaries, they've actually co-opted punk's rebelliousness and created expensive costumes enabling the wealthy to pose as renegades.
The following video takes a tour through the exhibit with comments from curator Andrew Bolton:
"Punk: Chaos To Couture" continues through April 14 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St., NYC; (212) 535-7710, metmuseum.org.