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July 30 2014

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12 posts tagged "Malcolm McLaren"

Inside Punk: Chaos to Couture

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By now, you’ve no doubt already heard about—or even seen—the facsimile of CBGB’s bathroom that Andrew Bolton included in the opening gallery of the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition, which opens to the public on Thursday, following tonight’s red-carpet festivities. “CBGB was the heart of punk in New York,” said Bolton at a preview this morning. “Punk was all about shock and provocation, and so to start off an exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a toilet—well, I thought was the ultimate punk statement,” the curator told Style.com.

The exhibition juxtaposes original (and contemporary) punk wares by Vivienne Westwood against luxury and haute couture looks from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana (who are featured in the Graffiti room, above), Maison Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Dior Haute Couture by John Galliano, and Gianni Versace (yes, the 1994 safety-pin dress is on display). One might be hard-pressed to differentiate between Vivienne Westwood’s destroyed seventies sweaters and Rodarte’s Fall 2008 knit dress, which are on display side by side. The same gallery boasts Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s lewd T-shirts (for instance, her famed “Tits” top hangs against a black PVC curtain). “I love that we start off with T-shirts with very obscene political and sexual slogans,” said Bolton. “They’re still shocking thirty-seven years later—in a way, more shocking, because of our political correctness.” Beyond the T-shirts lies a reproduction of McLaren and Westwood’s infamous—and iconic—shop, Seditionaries, which stood at 430 King’s Road. The remainder of the show was divided into DIY categories, like Hardware, Graffiti and Agitprop, Bricolage, and Destroy—and each room was punctuated by a film by Nick Knight.

“No other subcultural movement has a greater or more enduring influence on how we dress today,” Bolton noted in his opening remarks. Consider, as evidence, the fact that there is a slew of Fall 2013 looks in the show, from such houses as Viktor & Rolf, Saint Laurent, and Gareth Pugh—whose Fall 2013 trash-bag dresses are arranged into a veritable mob in the center of the Bricolage installation.

Bolton made sure to steer away from clichés—for instance, he noted that hairstylist Guido Paulo, who created the spiky Technicolor mops that topped each mannequin’s head, avoided Mohawks, and instead pulled inspiration from Richard Hell’s signature ’do.

“I wanted to present punk in a respectful, and even reverential, manner,” said Bolton. That’s already earning the show some mixed reviews. And of course, there are those who protest discussing punk in a high-fashion context—or, for that matter, paying couture prices for a punk-tinged look. “I think that’s completely punk,” said Bolton in response. “People seem to forget that punk really was a commercial movement. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, in a way, created what we know as the punk look. And they commodified it,” he explained.

As for why consumers and designers, from Karl Lagerfeld to Met Ball host Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, are still drawn to the seventies subculture, Bolton offers, “Punk endures today because it reflects our longing for a time when originality and creativity were celebrated, a time when fashion was provocative and confrontational. And, above all, a time when fashion championed the individual and self-expression.”

Punk: Chaos to Couture opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this Thursday, May 9.

RISD’s Feeling Fine and Dandy

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The dandy: It’s a term we hear on loop, it seems, when it comes to horn-rim-wearing street-style stars and all things bespoke or buttoned-up. But the dandy has a far richer history than the current zeitgeist lets on; one that includes the likes of George “Beau” Brummell—an arbiter of men’s fashion in eighteenth-century England who was known for being “extremely neat”—King George IV, Oscar Wilde, and Andy Warhol (whose paint-splattered shoes are pictured below). On April 28, Providence’s RISD Museum of Art will celebrate the term with the opening of its summer exhibition, Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion.

“As we delved into the subject of the dandy in art, literature, and history on an intellectual level, we felt a strong need to focus on the tangible garments worn by dandies past and present,” said Kate Irvin, the museum’s curator of costume and textiles. The selection runs the full temporal gamut—with current provocateurs such as Thom Browne and Waris Ahluwalia featured alongside more archival names, like Stephen Tennant (above, left), Charles Baudelaire, Richard Merkin, and Malcolm McLaren.

As assistant curator Laurie Brewer details, dandyism is as diverse as it is distinct, and it’s not strictly limited to one bracket of dressing. “I am always smitten with the extraordinary feat of what a bespoke suit can be—but I also fully appreciate Rick Owens’ radical take on menswear—hard and romantic, masculine and feminine.” Owens is also featured in the exhibit, lending credence to the sartorial vastness encompassed by the term. Expanding on the subject, the curators concluded, “there may be boundaries and rules that one feels compelled to follow when dressing, but one must always recognize that they are elastic.” Alongside the exhibition comes the release of a corresponding illustrated book, which features essays by the likes of Thom Browne, Glenn O’Brien, and Style.com’s editor in chief, Dirk Standen.

Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion will run from April 28 through August 18 at the RISD Museum of Art .

Photos: Cecil Beaton (Stephen Tennant); Courtesy of the RISD Museum of Art (Warhol shoes)

Anarchy In the Met

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“Fashion has lost its edge,” said curator Andrew Bolton at a preview of the Met’s upcoming 2013 Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition yesterday morning. The statement was in response to a query about why the Met chose to explore the rebellious seventies subculture at this particular time. “Punks were so brave and noble. I just think fashion needs an injection of that at the moment,” the curator told Style.com.

If the garments that joined Bolton on the podium during his introduction to the exhibition (looks from McQueen, Chanel, and Rodarte among them) were any indication, punk has been fighting its way into fashion for quite some time—since Zandra Rhodes’s slash- and safety-pin-infused 1977 “Conceptual Chic” collection, to be exact. The new show, explained Bolton, is a prequel to the Met’s 2006 Anglomania and will examine punk as an aesthetic, rather than an attitude. “Punk smashed every convention,” he said. “It prized originality, authenticity, and individualism.” While counterintuitive, these qualities, he said, put punk on the same, or at least a very similar, plane as couture. Continue Reading “Anarchy In the Met” »

Malcolm McLaren’s Funeral Rites: A Puckish Send-off For A Punkish Legend

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What’s an appropriate funeral for Malcolm McLaren, given the man’s congenital antipathy to convention? A deconsecrated church in Marylebone was a good place to start. A coffin spray-painted to look like a boombox with the motto “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die” written along its sides fitted McLaren’s niche in history as “the godfather of punk.” So did the wreath sent by Boy George, “A” for anarchy picked out in red roses.

A smattering of punk dignitaries showed up at St. Mary Magdalene for yesterday’s event, but—time being one convention that won’t abide resistance—the pretty, skinny young things of yore were an age-ravaged rogues’ gallery, with a few striking exceptions. Adam Ant made an effort, his striped frockcoat and bondage pants a striking reminder of why the vagabond style pioneered by McLaren and his ex, Vivienne Westwood, still resonates in fashion history. And Viv herself, straw yellow hair bound in a Chaos headband, proved she’s still flying the flag for creative illogic with a speech that typically roamed into impenetrable thickets of verbiage. McLaren’s old ally/adversary Bernie Rhodes, who shaped the Clash as direct rivals to the Sex Pistols, heckled from the back of the hall, “This is about Malcolm, not you, Vivienne,” and accused her of being an imperialist agent of the Establishment. That claim would’ve carried more weight if Rhodes himself hadn’t just made a garbled plea for intellectual copyright on behalf of all those brilliant iconoclasts—himself presumably included—who’d opened the door for the future without being appropriately compensated.

McLaren himself was one such iconoclast, so it’s hard to know what he would have made of his send-off. It had a surreal flavor (a boys’ choir sang the schlocky crooner’s fave “You Need Hands” from The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle while a stage-school baby tap-danced) which was true to him. But truer still was the emotion in his girlfriend Young Kim’s poignant speech, or the choke in his son Joe’s voice when he spoke. Westwood was right on the mark when she referred to people in the crowd who’d made a career of their 1977 highpoint (presumably many of them piled onto the banner-draped green double-decker that followed the horse-drawn glass carriage to Highgate Cemetery). “Get a life,” she sagely counseled. What was missing from the memorial was any sense of the wonderful, strange, and inspiring life that Malcolm had got himself since the punk era he helped shape three decades ago.

Photo: Beretta / Sims / Karius /Rex / Rex USA

A Week Of Their Own, Shorts For The Girl Who Has Everything, And More…

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Is New York’s combined men’s and women’s fashion week hurting menswear designers? The ones who’ve moved shop to Europe—where menswear is shown in June, rather than September—say yes. Will New York follow suit with its own dedicated men’s week? [WWD]

The latest addition to the White House Correspondents Dinner: Donatella Versace, who will sit with The Daily Beast. [WWD]

Naomi Campbell is refusing to testify at the trial of a Liberian warlord who allegedly gave her an enormous blood diamond during a stay at Nelson Mandela’s ranch in 1997. The super claims she never received an enormous diamond (proffered, the story goes, in the dead of night), but fellow guest Mia Farrow remembers differently. “You don’t forget when a girlfriend tells you she was given a huge diamond in the middle of the night.” [Page Six]

The Wall Street Journal clocks a new trend: leather shorts, the must-have for the girl who has everything. (Clever designers figured they’re the one item the girl who has everything doesn’t have.) The paper gives a fairly comprehensive rundown of the options, from Alice + Olivia to YSL (pictured) to Chrome Hearts’ $3,100 version. Which, for the record, Ikram can’t keep in stock. [WSJ]

And Malcolm McLaren was laid to rest in London today at a funeral attended by Dame Vivienne Westwood, Tracey Emin, Dinos Chapman, and McLaren’s partner, Young Kim. [Vogue U.K.]

Photo: Marcio Madeira