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first look: punk chaos to couture

god save the museum exhibit.

by: rebecca willa davis

May 09 2013

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Punk was (and still is) many things: a musical movement, a political force, a celebration of adolescence. But a fashion statement? Yes, totally. The Ramones adopted a uniform look--leather jacket, skinny jeans, lace-up sneakers. The Sex Pistols were outfitted by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren (who was inspired by his brief stint unofficially managing the New York Dolls in the early '70s and saw the power of an in-your-face look, albeit a glam rock one). Blondie donned a Stephen Sprouse dress in the "Heart of Glass" music video.

And as Punk: Chaos to Couture, the new Costume Institute exhibit on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City starting today, proves, the bands influenced designers as much as the designers dressed the bands.

The show features nearly 100 designs, from Versace's safety pin dresses to Rodarte's hole-covered sweaters, organized by theme (hardware, bricolage, etc.). They've also recreated the Westwood's and McLaren's Seditionaries boutique and the CBGB bathroom (thought we're not quite clear on what it has to do with punk, fashion, and the intersections between the two), and all of the mannequins have insane, finger-in-socket wigs designed by Redken's Guido Palau. Awesome, right?

There are plenty of mind-blowing pieces to look at, but don't go expecting much else; this is hardly a history lesson, and the soundtrack is kept pretty quiet (we suppose not everyone wants to hear "God Save the Queen" blasting on loop). So our advice? Get there early, since there are sure to be lines to get into the show, and bring your headphones so you can listen to your very own playlist of Patti Smith, Buzzcocks, X-Ray Spex, and more. And don't forget to pull on the bondage gear beforehand.

Punk: Chaos to Couture is open May 9-August 14, click here for more info.

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