Punk's not dead...
Jean Baptiste Mondino. Punk's Not Dead in: The Face, 1990.
.... at the moment it seems that punk is very much alive and can be spotted everywhere. The most publicly criticised event was probably this year's Met Gala to celebrate the opening of the exhibition PUNK: Chaos to Couture. Personally, I found it hilarious to see all the celebrities dressed up in their glamourous "punk" outfits.
As Madonna was one of the few who seemed to have understood the theme, she did put on every fashion cliché punk has to offer - from a tartan jacket to a dog collar necklace and ripped fishnet tights. Well done, Madonna - I mean, it is the gala of the Costume Institute (!) and we have 2013 and are not stuck in the 1970s, so who cares if wasn't exactly a convincing interpretation of punk.
Madonna - Met Gala 2013
(Photo: Getty Images)
I have learned from previous experience that I cannot pull off punk style at all. Every time I tried, I ended up looking like I'm going to a Halloween party. Nevertheless, I am a huge admirer of the era.
The image above is one of my all time favourites. When it was published in 1990 the original spirit of the subculture was all long gone and punk's fashion had found its way into mainstream culture. It indicates how distorted versions of punk live on through the appropriation of succeeding generations. The professional and polished aesthetic of the image doesn't seem to fit the rebellious DIY concept of punk. However, the subculture has had a lasting influence on fashion and the constant returns of punk motifs reference fashion's ambivalence of evanescence and revitalisation.
Mondino's image seems to admit that punk in its original form is dead but that the desire to express rebellion and otherness lives on.
No wonder, Abbey Lee Kershew's political statement written on her torso was regarded as the most authentic expression of punk on this particular evening. Flashing her stomach - not to forget her black knickers and almost (!) bare breasts - at a posh event like this, was probably the most true-to-punk way to communicate her message. (Okay, it could have been even a bit more rebellious.)
As Vivienne Westwood recalls the good old days: "We were interested in what we thought was rebellious, in wanting to annoy (English) people - and the way to do that was through sex."
Abbey Lee Kershew - Met Gala 2013
Reference: Vivienne Westwood cited in: Arnold, Rebecca. Fashion, Desire and Anxiety. London, 2001: p. 47.