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January 26, 2008

Outward Bound

Posted in: Ensembles

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood (British, b. 1941) and Malcolm McLaren (British, b. 1946). “Seditionaries” Top and Trousers, 1977. Top: Black cotton sateen, metal, and plastic; Trousers: Black cotton sateen, silver metal, braided nylon, and black plastic. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Richard Martin Bequest and Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2006 (2006.253.22 and 2006.253.23a, b).

Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s punk designs of the mid-to-late 1970s were as revolutionary as Poiret’s corsetless fashions of the early 1900s. In their promotion of a raw, do-it-yourself, smash-and-grab aesthetic, McLaren and Westwood effectively introduced sartorial post-modernism, with its emphasis on pastiche, eclecticism, and deconstructionism. This ensemble of bondage trousers and parachute shirt is the quintessential punk outfit, highlighting in its crude paramilitary and S & M references the anger, rebellion, and nihilism at the core of punk fashion. It was worn by Adam Ant, lead singer of the punk band Bazooka Joe (and later Adam and the Ants), whose own continuously evolving style tracked the course of punk’s apocalyptic and tribal aesthetic.

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