Fashion+ Museums = Disneyland for me. I was recently in New York City and made the rounds to the museums. I got a chance to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) for the first time! Such a marvelous, magical, mangiest place – I’ll get off my M’s here and throw in a little A for Ashton because even so – I felt a little PUNK’d.
Thanks for the photo Pete!
Currently on exhibition is ‘PUNK: Chaos to Couture,’ examining punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the 1970s through its continuing influence today. I love studying museums and their ways because they essentially curate collections for the public. Curation is the way of the tanchi – master the skill – master dressing for a petite body (with or without a panza).I was incredibly excited for the exhibition, as there has been a lot of buzz around it, particularly unfavorable reviews. But, unfortunately, I left PUNK feeling a sense of PUNK’d as well.
Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has said “Punk’s signature mixing of references was fueled by artistic developments such as Dada and postmodernism…so it makes sense to present this exhibition in a museum that also shows the broader output of those movements.” The exhibition also features a re-creation of the men’s room at the (now-closed) legendary punk and new wave bar CBGB.
I expected to see more than just great costumes; I was interested in seeing the cultural and social implications of the punk movement in conjunction with the fashion. Instead I began questioning the whereabouts of the cultural authenticity aside from putting what felt like a random bathroom display in the midst of high fashion. The exhibition did put together a great presentation of “Do-it-yourself, punk’s enduring contribution to high fashion such as hardware, focusing on couture’s use of studs, spikes, chains, zippers, padlocks, safety pins, and razor blades, with Sid Vicious as its icon. “ A much more chic use of safety pins than fixing my tanchi problems. ‘Punk’ also “highlights the impact of punk’s ethos of customization on high fashion, including the use of recycled materials from trash and consumer culture,” as epitomized by Wayne County. It’s inspired a new column coming up next on La Bella Tanchi where I’m going verde (green). Finally, ‘Punk’ does really well at examining the “effect of punk’s rip-it-to-shreds spirit, typified by Johnny Rotten, via torn and shredded garments associated with deconstructionism.”
The exhibition has received many criticisms, including one for “championing superficial style.” According to a blog post on Hyperallergic, “It felt like another in a long, long line of major cultural institutions “legitimizing” a counter-cultural movement, except in this case they were about 40 years late.” I couldn’t have agreed more. It was great a showcase of fashion and designers; I loved my visit to the MET and the exhibitions, but I can agree with this criticism. Peter and I noticed that some of what was on exhibition, were previews of next season’s collection by Burberry for example. They seemed more-so like product placement than a showcase celebrating costume over time.
Has the MET turned the museum into a catalyst for product placement?
Aside from questionable museum practice, the costumes were still inspiring. I could have spent hours looking and studying. All the use of pins, rips, fabrics, and head pieces created by hair stylist Guido Palau. It included designers:
Miguel Adrover, Thom Browne, Christopher Bailey (Burberry), Hussein Chalayan, Francisco Costa (Calvin Klein), Christophe Decarnin (Balmain), Ann Demeulemeester, Dior, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (Dolce and Gabbana), John Galliano, Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga), Katharine Hamnett, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Christopher Kane, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel), Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, Malcolm McLaren, Alexander
McQueen, Franco Moschino and Rossella Jardini (Moschino), Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte), Miuccia Prada, Gareth Pugh, Zandra Rhodes, Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent), Stephen Sprouse, Jun Takahashi (Undercover), Joseph Thimister, Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy), Gianni Versace, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, and Vivienne Westwood.
The exhibition is running till August 14th. Although no longer on display, the MET did an incredible job with its exhibition Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity presenting a revealing look at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries. A wonderful collection of gloves, hats, Edwardian aesthetic dress, and artwork giving a retrospect to this “lost” way of dressing. The exhibition closed May 27th, but also presented inspirations for this fashionista. Studying the curations of these fashion exhibitions all add up to making la bella tanchi mujer – master style curators!
For more photos: Check out Bloomberg’s coverage of the exhibition.
And others from 5th Avenue store fronts (1st time here also and these windows are out of this world!)