Inside the Met’s Punk Fashion Exhibition

Today WWD gives us a preview tour of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala’s upcoming exhibition Punk: Chaos to Couture. With tonight’s MET Ball set to live stream at Vogue.com and ModaOperandi.com, and the exhibition due to open to the public on Thursday, curious fashion minds wait feverishly for high-fashion’s exploration and interpretation of the punk movement. Curator Andrew Bolton said in an exclusive interview to WWD, “Everyone has an idea about punk. I think that’s what is so difficult to negotiate. In a way, we never set out to do a comprehensive history of punk. It was always a very specific, very conceptual take on punk.” Conceptual is one way to characterize this sudden marrying of punk fashion—a movement from the 90s that saw the likes of Courtney Love as its unofficial spokesperson—and high fashion, however, I suspect it has something to do with Hedi Slimane’s reintroduction of the concept through the newly branded Saint Laurent line.

On display at the Met museum visitors can expect to find authentic replicas of CBGB (a famous downtown club, where supposedly a lot of punk-y stuff happened) memorabilia such as a toilet, alongside originals from Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture. DIY pieces reminiscent of Elizabeth Hurley’s safety-pin Versace moment and more modern pieces like a selection from Gareth Pugh’s Fall 2013 collection. Altered (read: ripped, true punk) pieces from Chanel and Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf are also on display.

Bolton also made note of the display space that the punk pieces are housed in, which includes over-sized LED-screens and moldings fashioned out of trash, saying, “We wanted to have this real grandeur because we are treating the subject and the punks themselves are these heroic figures in terms of fashion.”

While some in the fashion space are already questioning if NYC’s highbrowed and society-minded set can or will truly embrace punk, its display at the Met and seal of approval from the likes of Anna Wintour should be a strong indication. Luxury e-commerce site, Moda Operandi (who is the main sponsor this year) already has a curated 100-piece collection from 12 designers (including Givenchy and Vivienne Westwood) featuring their interpretation of punk up for sale.

Whether this exhibition will be a success like the 2011 Alexander McQueen one, or a flop like the 2012 Schiaparelli and Prada one is yet to be seen, however, I predict a lot of people who live downtown, will be travelling uptown.

If you’re in NYC and happen to stop by the exhibition, which runs until August 14, please tweet me a pic. I will have full coverage of the Met Ball red-carpet up on Tuesday morning and will be live-tweeting during tonight’s event.