Sometimes, when two entities come together, it’s a match made in creativity heaven. Think: Andy Warhol and Basquiat, Mondrian and Yves Saint Laurent, Tex-Mex cuisine, and good ‘ole Rock ‘N’ Roll (originally a fusion of blues, gospel and country). But as last night’s Met Gala showed us, sometimes genres, styles and art forms just aren’t meant to mix — or at least not without a lot of careful thought and ingenuity.
The 2013 Met Gala was themed “Punk: From Chaos To Couture,” in honor of the new Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit chronicling punk’s influence on high fashion. The exhibit itself will juxtapose 1970s punk fashion with modern-day haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces that borrow its penchant for safety pins, bulge beads, hardware materials, and ripped-to-shreds fabrics.
Another emphasis, according to the museum’s website: a comparison of punk’s “do-it-yourself” techniques with designer fashion’s “made-to-measure” approach to creating style. This is definitely a topic worthy of some thought, if not a little speculation.
Like all true cultural movements, punk style is impossible to boil down into a concise set of adjectives, nouns and fashion materials. Punk was a reaction to the perceived decadence and materialism of 1970s fashion and culture, with punk devotees using their fashion to make a strong cultural statement. Bucking materialism, punks incorporated everyday items like duct tape and safety pins into their fashion, and also drew from glam rock, greaser and mod movements to develop their “do-it-yourself” style. By the 1980s, punk had moved out of the alternative scene and into the mainstream, with fashion designers borrowing its visual symbols and attitude to create a new take on runway style.
When two distinct styles collide, the collaboration can often wind up playing into the stereotypes of each entity rather than bridging the gap and forming something new and exciting. Last night’s Met Gala” was a good example of that, with celebrities either not even attempting to go “punk couture,” or relying on fishnets, leather, spikes and heavy black eye makeup and lipstick to signify their punk edge.
Aside from Rooney Mara, who has signified goth-meets-glamour ever since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the notable exception was Sarah Jessica Parker. The actress wore an opulent gold headpiece with a fanned mohawk, playing homage to punk while still acknowledging that, yes, she is a celebrity living the life of luxury. Embodying that spirit, she takes punk to a new place that pays homage to the punk attitude rather than the pins, tape and hardware that hold
We’re sure the top-notch curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have applied a lot of analysis and care to their “Punk: From Chaos To Couture” exhibit. We’re excited to see how they’ve bridged the gap between punk and couture to shed light on what can be the next best creativity fusion — because when creative collaborations are as good as Tex-Mex, Rock ‘N’ Roll or that Disney-Salvador Dali video, we say the more the merrier.