Sneak Peek: Metropolitan Museum’s ‘PUNK: Chaos to Couture’ Exhibition

Three muses of Ann Demeulemeester, crowned in ‘dos by Guido Palau. (Photo: UnBeige)

Elaborately studded leather jackets, leopard print pants, and neon pink fright wigs were on display this morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art–and that was just among those who had gathered in the Sculpture Court for a press conference, where museum director Thomas Campbell, Moda Operandi’s Lauren Santo Domingo, Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci, and curator Andrew Bolton spoke briefly about the Costume Institute’s “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” exhibition, which opens to the public on Thursday.

“Punk’s legacy has had an enduring and pervasive influence on high fashion and on the broader culture, often to surprisingly beautiful effect,” said British-born Campbell, who when first hearing of Bolton’s idea for the exhibition flashed back to images of his youth and the King’s Road scene that is celebrated in one of seven second-floor galleries. Bolton explained that he did not set out to examine the history of punk but rather to focus on the impact of punk on haute couture and ready-to-wear.

“No other subcultural movement has had a greater or more enduring influence on the way we dress today,” said Bolton, as a black-clad photographer with long, pointy green fingernails snapped away, “and I wanted the exhibition to underscore punk’s continuing relevance.” Sneak a peek at the exhibition in the installation images below as you ready your webby knitwear and skull-printed accessories for this evening’s gala.

Plastic jacket required. Standing sentry at the entrance to the exhibition are a John Galliano-designed fall 2006 Christian Dior haute couture ensemble, complete with red leather harness, and at left, a late 1970s “parachute” shirt and “bondage” trousers from Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s Seditionaries. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

To a tee. One of the exhibition’s seven galleries replicates Seditionaries boutique, located at 430 Kings Road in London from 1976 through 1980. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Zippers and padlocks and safety pins, oh my. A section devoted to “D.I.Y. Hardware” shows designers such as Gianni Versace and Viktor & Rolf substituting punk trappings such as studs and spikes for conventional couture trimmings. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Spray something, say something. A gallery devoted to “DIY: Graffiti & Agitprop” is a mix of splashed and spray-painted designs by the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Alexander McQueen alongside the bold statement tees of Katharine Hamnett and Moschino. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Appetite for destruction. In the final “DIY: Destroy” gallery, a row of webby knitwear includes several patched and crocheted ensembles from the fall 2008 Rodarte collection. At far left is a cotton dress from Yohji Yamamoto’s spring 1993 collection. (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)