If a squatter in present-day south London covers a beat-up jacket with studs, that’s punk, right? But what if Karl Lagerfeld put studs on a $5000 jacket? Is that punk, too?
– Maya Singer, writer and special projects editor at Style.com.
Ms. Singer poses this question in her editorial on the current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – Punk: From Chaos to Couture.
To answer Ms. Singer’s question I’d say no, Mr. Lagerfeld’s jacket is not Punk.
Punk is, or was, all about intention. People in the 1970s wore torn t-shirts, ripped jeans and studded jackets not for fashion but to express their anger over current society norms and Thatcher/Regan politics, as well as to distinguish themselves from the mainstream. Mr. Lagerfeld is using vintage Punk aesthetics in fashion for commercial gain – the antithesis of the Punk movement.
But the squatter’s jacket is not Punk either. A rebel of 2013 is another generation and has a different point to make. She would find her own look to communicate, not copy what has already been done nearly forty years ago.
Corporate designers can refer to Punk and dissenters can imitate it, but neither can be the real thing. Punk was a look (not a fashion) with a message at very specific time and exists only in history.
Well, that’s my brief two cents.