In a bit of cross promo with the Met Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibit “Punk: Chaos to Couture,” which will, of course, be feted by the Met Ball May 6, boutique shopping site Moda Operandi has enlisted 12 “high fashion” designers and brands to create a capsule clothing collection that will be sure to please Courtney Love and anger everyone else who still cares about punk rock.
Moda Operandi cofounder Lauren Santo Domingo tells WWD that the collection will “offer women the opportunity to capture the spirit of punk with pieces that balance high fashion and rebellion.” Two great tastes that taste great together! And how, pray tell, shall the world’s most expensive fashion brands be driving even more nails into the coffin of punk rock, the first thousand of which punk rock put there itself? What will this grand appropriation look like? WWD reports that it will include “T-shirts hand-studded with spikes from Eddie Borgo; a Givenchy chiffon and leather cape, and two corseted Vivienne Westwood tartan dresses.” It will also include pieces from Rodarte, House of Waris, Moschino, Prabal Gurung, Thom Browne, Preen, Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana and Ek Thongprasert.” Naturally.
Fashionista wonders “how actual punks would feel about all this,” but punk has become such a large and diverse movement that there’s actually no single answer to that question. Anarcho-punk heroes Crass would probably condemn it in vicious, anti-capitalistic terms, while the right wing populists of The Ramones would hate it for altogether different reasons. Meanwhile, the gothically inclined, anti-political post-punks of Death In June would take no stance at all. Yet more “sell out” punks, the ones who’ve become rockstars and enjoy that fact, would embrace it wholeheartedly as just one more part of the decadence that comprises their lives. And latter-day emo punks would be too busy crying about girls to even think about fashion. Not all punks are created equal!
Personally, I am somewhat of the old school, anarchist punk school of thought that capitalism is a far-too-powerful behemoth that sucks up all attempts at authentic culture and incorporates them into its evil empire (surprise!). Ever since Vogue first photographed models in front of a Jackson Pollock painting, and probably before, this has been true. But one of capitalism’s few serendipitous (if somewhat irrelevant) successes, in my mind, is its ability to use the ruling class’s great surplus of wealth to produce things of great beauty, and I have no doubt this collection will be beautiful, as will the Met exhibit. I guess those at the bottom of the food chain will have to try even harder next time to make something that’s too ugly to be appropriated.
Just kidding! If there’s anything the seapunk saga has taught us, it’s that that is simply not possible.