Posts Tagged ‘punk fashion’

Illustration by Katja Spitzer from Hair: From Moptops to Mohicans, Afros to Cornrows. Prestel Press

Even though Native North American tribes had been using the Mohican for over 2,000 years, most people in 1970s London had never seen a hairstyle like this. That’s why the punks, with their heads shaves except for a narrow strip of hair from the forehead to the nape of the neck, shocked so many older Londoners at that time. Their crazy hairstyles, holey T-shirts, studded leather jackets and jewelry made from safety pins became a style that still influences fashion, art, and music to this day.

From Hair: From Moptops to Mohicans, Afros to Cornrows, by Katja Spitzer.

Come back to ODFL tomorrow for my review of this clever children’s book all about hair.

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Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

Today, I find beauty in more unexpected places. I’ve never been much of a punk rocker, but I love the punk era. It was a time when people didn’t spend hours trying to look picture-perfect. It was rough around the edges. I don’t like things that are too perfect, clean, or groomed. I like when there’s a bit of something weird or different.

Jill Kortleve – fashion model.

Ms. Kortleve was speaking to Harper’s Bazaar magazine in the May 2022 issue.

I would say that the punk rock look wasn’t necessarily just thrown together. For some it was very much a curated look that took a lot of time and thought.

Like Ms. Kortleve, I also enjoy the unexpected in fashion. An added bit of whimsy or something just slightly off with the rest of the outfit is where we find creativity. For example – buttons on the back of a sweater, a strand of pearls worn with a hoodie, or a bee brooch placed on the cuff of a jacket. That’s the fun in fashion!

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Patti Smith in 1977 sporting a Giorgio Armani jacket. Image: Lynn Goldsmith

Even as a kid, what I was wearing was always very important to me. I very much identified with my clothing. 

Patti Smith, American musician.

I never thought of Patti Smith as someone who would be interested in fashion. But in this article (Harper’s Bazaar, April 2020) Smith discusses just how much she liked fashion and once she got to NYC she even tried to get onto the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

With a taste for high fashion, but not the budget, she shopped Philadelphia thrift stores where she found treasures by Dior and Balenciaga and donned them in her own way.

I love everything about Smith’s style in this photo. In particular the scarf around her wrist, which is something I do with ribbon, and her rings. She’s wearing one big one with a black stone that might be antique and several bands in front. Stunning in its uniqueness.

Click here and check out her outfit in a live performance of Because the Night. 


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McLaren and Westwood back in the days of Punk Rock.

McLaren and Westwood back in the days of Punk Rock.

I made clothes that looked like ruins. I created something new by destroying the old. This wasn’t fashion as a commodity, this was fashion as an idea.

– Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010), British fashion designer (of sorts) and manager of the Sex Pistols.

I read this quote in Vivienne Westwood’s biography, Vivienne Westwood written by Westwood and author Ian Kelly (Picador, 2014).

I’m intrigued by the notion of creating something new by “destroying” the old. Kind of goes against my grain given my appreciation for all things vintage. But I can understand why, in post WWII Britain after years of bleakness and austerity, young people would want not just to break away from standard conventions and fashions but also to erase them. Creating something new from something old for them was active, it was making a statement. I think intent behind fashion choices is always more interesting.

McLaren was Westwood’s partner in life and in business. The two set up shop in the early 70s on King’s Road in London, at first selling revival 50s rock clothing and record albums. As the times changed so did the couple, who became central figures in the Punk Rock scene. My impression from the book is that McLaren influenced and inspired Westwood but she was the real worker and creator. She went on to develop a fashion empire, without McLaren.

I wonder if McLaren’s comment was a stab at Westwood (he was not above doing that). No matter her background in punk, she is a commercial fashion powerhouse now and certainly fashion for her is a commodity –  a big one.

More on Westwood and her fashion empire in an upcoming post.



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28370The people who bought Vivienne Westwood clothes we kind of thought were pretend real punks. The punks who hadn’t got the imagination to go to a charity shop and do their own DIY look. We thought they were kind of pathetic and had too much money than sense.

Caroline Cox, fashion historian and author.

Ms. Cox, an original 1970s punk, was speaking on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour about punk fashion.

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