Thursday, 11 February 2010

Fashion moment: Punk Luxe ★

It’s London, early 1970’s, and there’s a feeling of discontent amidst the underbelly of the city. The ‘alternative’ hotspots of England’s capital are buzzing with a new anarchistic movement – punk. Famed for their individual tastes – in both music and fashion – these rebellious, anti-materialistic youths know no boundaries when it comes to style. With influences from the riotous Sex Pistols to Vivienne Westwood’s sadomasochistic designs, it’s all about customised, deconstructed clothes to attract attention – throwing a two-fingered salute to conformity in the process. They wear shredded denim jeans, studded jackets, graffiti t-shirts, bondage wear, leather, zips, safety pins, razor blades, dog collars and even old toilet chains. Their hair is shaved or dyed in gregarious colours and rows of piercings stud their skin like bullet holes. They’re the antithesis of the glittery disco and glam rock scenes of current mainstream culture. While fun-lovin’ kids strut their stuff to Donna Summer and T-REX, the young punks gather on the street in intoxicated groups waiting to see a gig. All in all, they’re a parent’s worst nightmare. And of course, every cool kid wants to be one.

But as with any pioneering trend, it wasn’t theirs for long and the rest of the world soon followed. In 1977, British designer Zandra Rhodes started using elements of the punk aesthetic in her collections. Switching secondhand pins and rusty studs with gleaming gold safety pins and chains, she connected uneven hems and slashed holes with delicate embroidery to create refined, elegant pieces. And soon the rich and famous began to sit up and take notice – and voila, a new style was born.

After Rhodes opened the floodgates, elements of punk could be seen in high-end fashion all the way through the 80’s, 90’s, noughties and beyond. The phrase ‘punk luxe’ was coined because of its glossy, body-forming look with a distinctive rock edge, and it’s impossible not to ignore punk’s influence in some of our favourite trends from the past few seasons. There’s Balmain’s skin-tight ripped jeans and studded leather bags, Jean Paul Gaultier’s PVC, tartan and fishnets, and the skull scarves and bondage undertones of Alexander McQueen. Alice Dellal is its willing heroine. And let’s not forget that Versace safety pin dress Liz Hurley wore to the 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' premier...

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